Category Archives: New Covenant

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PART 4. GRACE OVERCAME SIN

PART 4 of 8: GRACE OVERCAME SIN

INDEX
LESSON 1. PART 4. OUR SIN NATURE HAS BEEN CRUCIFIED
INTRODUCTION
1. JESUS DEALT WITH SIN ON THE CROSS
1.1 GRACE FROM “ABBA”
1.2 IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS
1.3 OUR SINS ARE FORIVEN AND FOGOTTEN
1.4 SIN WAS THE BIG PROBLEM
2. MAN’S SINFUL NATURE
2.1 MANKINDS SIN NATURE; THE FLESH, THE LEGALISTIC NATURE
2.2 JESUS DIED FOR ALL TYPES OF OUR SIN
2.3 THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVICTS US OF THE SIN OF UNBELIEF
2.4 OUR SINFUL FLESH NATURE WAS CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST
3. SAINTS NOT SINNERS
3.1 GOD NOW SEES US AS SINLESS
3.2 WE ARE NOW SAINTS NOT SINNERS
3.3 WE WERE SANCTIFIED (PAST TENSE)
3.4 GRACE IS NOT A LICENCE TO SIN
3.5 SIN IS NO LONGER OUR MASTER
4. THE POWER TO SAY NO TO SIN
4.1 THE LAW PROVOKES SIN
4.2 GRACE EMPOWERS US TO STOP SINNING
4.3 JESUS NOW DEFENDS US

LESSON 2. PART 4. LIVING HOLY LIVES
5. LIVING IN FORGIVENESS
5.1 REPENTANCE
5.2 RENEWED THINKING
5.3 NO CONDEMNATION
6. A SCRITURAL EXERCISE
7. A GOOD CONSCIENCE
7.1 CONFESSION
7.2 HEALTH BY GRACE
8. CAN WE LOOSE OUR SALVATION IF WE SIN AS SOME CLAIM?
8.1 THE HEBREW CONTROVERSY
8.2 MISUNDERSTANDING THE ISSUE
8.3 THE CONTEXT OF HEBREWS
8.4 JEWS WITH CHRISTIAN LEANINGS
8.5 JEWISH MIXED BELIEFS ABOUT JESUS
8.6 THE FLOW OF THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
8.7 BACKSLIDE AND LOSE YOUR SALVATION – REALLY?
8.8 SIN AND YOU LOOSE YOUR SALVATION – I DON’T THINK SO?
8.9 GOD NEVER LETS US GO ONCE WE ARE HIS
8.10 ARE WE RESCUED BUT THEN THROWN TO THE SHARKS?
8.11 THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN
9. GROUP TIME
9.1 EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNERS

LESSON 1. PART 4. OUR SIN NATURE HAS BEEN CRUCIFIED

INTRODUCTION
An important part of understanding the grace that is ours through the living Word, Jesus Christ, is that we have a firm Biblical foundation on which this grace is established. This is so that the intimacy, hope and blessings that come with Jesus’ grace cannot be undermined. As you go through this study course we ask you to spend time looking up all the scripture references quoted in brackets and allow the Holy Spirit to establish the Word in your heart and mind.

1. JESUS DEALT WITH SIN ON THE CROSS
1.1 GRACE FROM “ABBA”
Eph. 1:6-8 “To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him Jesus we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding”.
Under the New Covenant of grace we are called children of God. As such we should have a personal and intimate relationship with God as “Abba” (Ro.8:15: Abba is Hebrew for daddy). Sadly many believers still allow sin or unworthiness caused by an over consciousness of sin to separate them from “Abba”. The issue of sin and our sinlessness in Christ is probably one of the most important and yet for some, the most controversial issues of grace. The Scriptures are clear that because of “Abba’s” love for us, through the cross and by grace, Jesus has destroyed the dominion of sin, the power of sin and dealt with all our sins, one and for all so that we can now live in an intimate, loving and confident relationship with “Abba” – and live by His Spirit within us.
As the great British Preacher, Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) said: “The saints shall persevere in holiness, because God perseveres in grace”.

1.2 IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS
John 1:29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Mat 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
2Co 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The good news of grace: Jesus has taken away the sin of the world. He has set us free of sin. We are forgiven. We have become part of him. When we see him we see a reflection of who we are in him (Col.3:3). Sin is no longer the issue or the focus. Those who are in Christ are righteous in God’s eyes and that righteousness will work its way out in their lives. God no longer relates to us based on our sin or sinlessness but on the basis of our union with Christ and his righteousness. Our sin identity and the law of sin and death is effectively done away with for those in Christ Jesus.

1.3 OUR SINS ARE FORIVEN AND FOGOTTEN
Heb.8:12 (Amp) For I will be merciful and gracious toward their sins and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more. [Jer. 31:31-34.]
Heb 10:16-19 “This is the (new) covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus”.
Rom 4:6 “David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works ”Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered”.
Col 2:13 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins”.
Isa 43:25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more”.
This is the good news of grace and the New Covenant. All believer’s sins are forgiven and forgotten by God. When God’s Word say all he means all, not just confessed sins, not just past sins, not just known sins but all our sin were dealt with at the cross. The slate is wiped clean. On the final judgment day when the account books are opened (Rev.20:12) no sin will be found against our names. The only thing accounted (2Co.5:19) to us is our righteousness in Christ. Not only does it say all our sin are forgiven but it says God’s remembers them no more. We may choose to remember them and dwell on them but God doesn’t – and we need to adopt the same attitude. We can now come to God with confidence and boldness (Heb.4:16) as his beloved, children knowing that he sees us as sinless because we are in Christ (1Jn.4:17). It sounds too good to be true – that is the offence of grace and that is why some people just can’t receive grace, they just can believe God is that good and that graceful.

1.4 SIN WAS THE BIG PROBLEM
Let’s be clear sin is evil, harmful, ungodly and destructive. Sin is a big problem and in no way do we promote, encourage or underestimate the terrible effects of sin. There is no such thing as “cheap grace” as sin is so bad that the Son of God himself, Jesus Christ, was humiliated and put to death to destroy sin’s power and domination, that is the cost of God’s grace to us. The cross declares that the solution to sin is Jesus – not our self effort, self righteousness, law keeping, or adherence to the Ten Commandments. God’s solution to sin was the cross and the grace of Jesus Christ. Unbelievable as it may seem to many Christians, Scripture is clear; law living produces sin, grace destroys sin. Jesus came to set us free from both sin and the Law that gives sin its power (1Co.15:56). The cross of Christ and the grace that came through Jesus is the only truly effective antidote to sin. There is no other effective solution, there is no other sacrifice. This is the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ. Without Christ and his grace we are all lost and dead in our sins.

2. MAN’S SINFUL NATURE

2.1 MANKINDS SIN NATURE; THE FLESH, THE LEGALISTIC NATURE
Rom 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned…..”
Sin is powerful and deadly. Many ask “Why does God allow terrible things to happen?” The truth is that it’s not God but the fallen nature of creation that manifests in the evil and catastrophes we see all around us. All of creation is fallen and has been corrupted by sin. All of creation is longing to be redeemed from the affects of sin and be made anew (Ro.8:20-12) (Rev.21:5). Likewise mankind is fallen and has a sinful nature it’s evident in mankind’s actions of war, murder, abuse, greed, pollution, crime, etc. etc. and we all live and suffered the consequences, sadly, even those of us who are saved. Scripture teaches that through Adam all became sinners (Rom.5:12). We have all inherited both Adam’s natural genes and his diseased spiritual condition called sin. Adam’s choice to trust himself, his ability and his intellect totally polluted both him and his offspring. Mankind became spiritually dead to the things of God and our noble character totally warped. Sin killed us off spiritually and physically and still does today. The Law of sin and death has been at work in all mankind since Adam (Rom.8:1): You sin you die. We inherited a sin nature (The Greek word is sarx) from Adam. This sinful nature (Rom.7:18) is also referred to as “the flesh”, the fallen nature, the carnal nature or the law nature. The flesh is highly self centred, independent and legalistic. It lives by the accumulation of knowledge of good and bad (Gen.2:17) and its application through avoiding bad that harm and embracing good that blesses. This is done through rules, regulations and techniques; systems of control which are manipulated for self gain and independence – producing the ultimate “self made man”. God’s input is not wanted nor required.

2.2 JESUS DIED FOR ALL TYPES OF OUR SIN
Rom 4:25 ” Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification”.
Isa 53:4 -5 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions , he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (A prophetic picture of Jesus on the Cross).
There are a number of different types of sin. We normally refer to them all under the generic term “Sin”. Jesus died for all our sins and all types of sin, once and for all.
1. Sin. Greek: αμαρτία hamartia. Thayer defines sin as, to be without a share in, to miss the mark, to err, be mistaken, to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong, to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin, that which is done wrong, sin, an offence, a violation of the divine law in thought or in act. Collectively, the complex or aggregate of sins committed either by a single person or by many. Sin is used 174 times as a noun and 42 times as a verb in the New Testament. The Greek Septuagint uses this word in Isa.53.
2. Trespasses or transgressions. Greek: παράπτωμα paraptoma. Thayer defines this as to fall beside or near something, a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness, a sin, misdeed. Its’ used 9 times in the New Testament.
3. Iniquities. Greek: ανομία anomia. Thayer defines this as the condition of without law, because ignorance of it, because of violating it, contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness. Strong defines this word as; illegality, that is, violation of law or generally wickedness. Iniquity, transgression of the law, unrighteousness. It’s used 25 times in the New Testament. The Greek Septuagint uses this word in Isa.53.

2.3 THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVICTS US OF THE SIN OF UNBELIEF
John 16:8-9 (Amp) “When the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness and about judgment: About sin, because they do not believe in Me [trust in, rely on, and adhere to Me]…”
Unlike the teachers of the Law, the Pharisees, Jesus did not point to peoples moral sin but to the sin of unbelief in the goodness and love of God. The New Testament scriptures make it clear that the real sin issue between man and God is the sin of unbelief. It is a lack of trust and faith in a loving and kind God that leads to rebellion and moral sin. Many teach that the Holy Spirit convicts believers of sin. It’s almost as if the Holy Spirit has come to replace Satan as the accuser and condemner. They conclude this from quoting John 16:8 out of context. John 16:9 explains that the sin the Holy Spirit now convicts us of is unbelief not moral sin. We need to urgently repent of this wrong teaching and thinking as it brings condemnation and guilt. The issue that the Holy Spirit wants to help us all to deal with is “Where are we living in unbelief” for unbelief is sin. The affects of unbelief is apparent throughout Israel’s history. They chose to disbelieve God (Heb.3:19) (Ps.78:32) (Ps.106:24) and his goodness and trust in themselves or other god’s. The result was that they fell into moral sin, great evil and were robbed of their blessings. Likewise with Adam and Eve, their sin of unbelief in God’s goodness and promises was the root of all other sins and the loss of their blessings. Our sinful, fallen nature is intrinsically one of unbelief but when we are in faith and believe, all the promises of God are ours through Christ and his grace (Jn.1:16).

2.4 OUR SINFUL FLESH NATURE WAS CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST
Gal 5:24 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”.
The flesh sin nature embraces sin and opposes the will and the Spirit of God (Rom.8:3-8).
The only way to be freed from the sin nature is to die to self, and to be “born again” (Jn.3:5-6). The good news is that the sin nature of those who have turned to Christ has been nailed on the cross with Christ (Gal.2:20). We have been baptised into Christ’s death (Ro.6:3). The sin nature of believers is dead. It’s memories and habits may still plagues us but our sin nature is dead in Christ. However we do need to allow our minds to be renewed and our actions sanctified by the Word and the Spirit, and this takes time.
Col 2:11 “In Christ you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ”
Rom 2:29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
The Scriptures also describe freedom from our sin nature in another way, circumcision. Just as Jewish men had their useless flesh physically cut away so we who are in Christ have been spiritually circumcised. The fleshy fallen part of our inner person has been cut way and cat off. Our hearts have been circumcised of their sin nature.
Gal.2:17-21 (The Message) “Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? No great surprise, right? And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan. What actually took place is t his: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily”.

3. SAINTS NOT SINNERS

3.1 GOD NOW SEES US AS SINLESS
Grace is all about our identity in Christ and about us choosing in faith to see ourselves as God see us. If you are “Born Again” by the Spirit of God, you are the righteousness of God (2Co.5:21) and as such you are qualified for blessing upon blessing and the power of the Holy Spirit to reign and rule from a place of rest and peace. This issue of taking our eyes off sin and putting them on Jesus righteousness given to us by grace, is core to living in the abundant life of Christ. Lots of people in the Old Testament tried to be sinless and they always failed (Rom.9:30). But amazingly both David & Abraham (Gen.15:16) knew that true righteousness and sinlessness depended on them believing and trusting in a good God. David understood and received Gods grace and after God’s forgiveness of David’s adultery & murder David saw himself as righteous – just as if his sin never existed (2Sam22:12). That’s the offence of the cross and Jesus grace. Even though he was under the Covenant of the Law (Gal.2:21) David prophetically foresaw God’s grace for the forgiveness of his sins, as did Abraham, and took hold of it. God considered David (Acts 13:22) to be a man after his own heart! Likewise today (Rom. 3:21) Jesus has made us righteous and sinless in Gods eyes. I guess that’s why grace makes a lot of religious people really angry, as it’s seen as being unfair or unjust. God considers you to be a man /woman after Hid own heart. This is the good news of the gospel and it will bear mighty good fruit as you allow the truth to renew your thinking. 1Jn. 4:17 “In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him” i.e. holy and sinless.

3.2 WE ARE NOW SAINTS NOT SINNERS
Nowhere in the New Testament does it address believers as sinners, except in the past tense. Believers are referred to as the saints (Ro.16:15) or as brother and sisters in Christ. So let’s look more at our identity. We need know who we are and describe ourselves accordingly. For those who are saved and born again, all our sins are forgiven, past, present and future, without conditions, we don’t have to do anything further. Understanding the difference between a sinner and a saint is important as if we refer to ourselves as sinners we will act as sinners. A sinner is someone that is unsaved, un-righteous and enslaved by sin. On the other hand sinners who have given their lives to Christ are now righteous and are “saints” or “holy ones”. Believers identities are no longer dependent on their actions, either good or bad but on who they are in Christ, Therefore we now humbly talk about ourselves saints (Heb.10:10) not sinners – that’s what we used to be. We do however recognize that without God’s grace and our union with Christ we would be sinners, it’s only in grace that we are identified as saints, it’s nothing of ourselves. We may be saints that sometimes sin but that’s a big difference from being a sinner who cannot help but sin. Sadly many liturgies still put our focus on our sin and on our old identity as sinners, this leads to a constant sense of unworthiness and condemnation. We are not sinless because we never sin, we are sinless because through Jesus and his grace God has chosen to do away with the system of keeping records of believer’s sins. Under the New Covenant God does not relate to us anymore on the basis of our sin or lack thereof, God now relates to us as sinless children who are right with him through Jesus. God remember our sins no more so why should you? Under the New Covenant God’s only issue with believers sinful actions is that they hurt and rob his children and others of his blessings and well being. (More about our new identity in part 6).

3.3 WE WERE SANCTIFIED (PAST TENSE)
1Co. 6:9-12 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”.
(MSG) “A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that sinners list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit”.
The Greek word sanctified is hagiazō which Thayer defines as to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow, to separate from profane things and dedicate to God , consecrated things to God, dedicated people to God, to purify, to cleanse externally, to purify by expiation: free from the guilt of sin, to purify internally by renewing of the soul.
The above scripture says we were sanctified. It’s past tense. We were sinners but we were washed clean when we came to Christ, that’s now our position in Christ. Sanctification is a position in Christ that then works its way out through a process of the renewal of our minds and the changing of our actions (2Co.7:1) as we live by God’s Spirit within us. Some have misunderstood our holiness and based it on our actions instead of on who we are in Christ. Jesus is now our sanctification and holiness (1Co.1:30) not our actions or Law keeping.

3.4 GRACE IS NOT A LICENCE TO SIN
Rom 3:8 “Why not say–as some slanderously claim that we say–“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!”
Rom 6:1 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
As in Pauls day, those who oppose grace claim that preaching grace is a license to sin or do evil. This is because Jesus’ grace is offensive to the religious spirit that relies on carnal, soulish, thinking (1Co.1:12-16), laws, self will and self effort. Grace and can only be accepted in one’s spirit by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. God’s grace always offends and confuses all who ultimately exalt carnal knowledge and logic above Spirit revealed, scriptural, truth. There is no worldly logic in God’s grace. No logic in the fact that God himself died for sin and then freely pardons all our sins. God’s heavenly wisdom, thinking and ways are simply not man’s ways (Isa.55:8). God’s way of grace offends the flesh and fleshy thinking but exalts the Spirit within that reveals the deep truths found in Christ alone and confirmed by the scriptures. Having said that, it is clear that some people misuse grace, just as many under Law based Christianity continue to sin in secret and cover it up. We are warned that there will be false teachers who preach grace and promote licentiousness (Jude 1:4). However because some people misuse grace it does not nullify grace. The scriptures are clear that grace is the power to say no to sin (Titus 2:12)(Rom.6:14), grace is not a licence to sin. Those who are truly in Christ and his grace will find that sin becomes less and less of an issue as grace has is affect.

3.5 SIN IS NO LONGER OUR MASTER
Rom 6:6″ For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”.
Before we were saved Sin was our master whom we were compelled to obey. The unsaved cannot help but sin, it is their nature. Mankind does not sin through choice but because it our Adamic fallen nature. Those in Christ have a new nature and a new master, Jesus and we are no longer slaves to sin. Christ has redeemed us from slavery. A Christian who says that they cannot stop sinning and are enslaved by sin need to be founded in grace and their identity in Christ.

4. THE POWER TO SAY NO TO SIN

4.1 THE LAW PROVOKES SIN
Rom 7:7-8 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead.
Rom 5:20 “The law was brought in so that sin might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more”.
Just as grace is the power to overcome sin, the Law provokes sin. In grace we uphold the Law as the Law is good and powerful when used for its correct purpose. As stated in part 4 , the Laws purpose is not to make us holy but to emphasis and expose sin, especially the sin of unbelief and self righteousness. When the Law is preached it actually stirs up and provokes moral sin. Tell someone not to touch something and sees what happens. The mixing of Law and grace effectively nullifies the power of grace to overcome sin, because the Law stirs up sinful desires. The solution to this problem is simple, get rid of the Law from your belief system and life, replace it with Jesus centred grace and sin’s addiction will be broken.

4.2 GRACE EMPOWERS US TO STOP SINNING
Rom 6:18 “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness”.
Tit 2:12 “Grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age”.
Freedom from the Law and abiding in grace breaks the power of sin addiction and slavery. It is grace that empowers us to say no to sin and temptation not the law. In the New Covenant the Holy Spirit leads believers from within. He shows us the way to live righteously without sin. No longer do we rely on external laws and rules. Instead the Spirit lays Gods ways on our hearts and governs our thinking (Ro.8:5-9). We know within ourselves what is right and what is wrong and how to live this out. We are now slaves to righteousness and have to obey our masters promptings and commands within us. When we were unsaved we could not help but sin, as were salves to sin, now that we are slaves to righteousness and grace we cannot help but do what is right. Righteousness is now our new nature in Christ. As we believe so we do, believe you are in grace and righteous and you will find you live righteously, believe you are a sinner and you will sin. When we are fully established in grace and our identity as God’s children we find that we have the power to put off our old sins of immorality, lying, stealing, hate, anger, etc. – we can put off the sin that was of our old self because it now no longer has a foundation within us to feed on and support it. This is the process of working out our salvation and sanctification in practical and real terms from the truth that in Christ we are sanctified, righteous and holy.

The great British Victorian Preacher, Charles Spurgeon, nailed it when he said, “When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I beat my breast to think I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so and sought my good”.

4.3 JESUS NOW DEFENDS US
1Jn 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence—Jesus Christ, the righteous One.
Heb 7:24-25 Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Rom 8:33-35 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
We all sin at some time, even though we don’t want to. The good news is that if and when we sin Jesus defends us against any accuser, he declares us as not guilty. Jesus interceded on our behalf. He is not only our high priest but also our advocate who is constantly declaring us innocent and the our sins paid for by his own blood. Jesus is the heavenly administrator and dispenser of God’s grace. No longer can Satan or anyone else bring a charge against us because of our sin. We are not like Job God allowed to be accused and afflicted by Satan, Satan no longer has any rights to accuse or afflict us. Job longed for someone to defend him (Job 9:33) – in grace, we have Jesus to do just that.

LESSON 2. PART 4. LIVING HOLY LIVES

5. LIVING IN FORGIVENESS

5.1 REPENTANCE
Mat 4:17 “Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Most people think that to repent means to confess one’s sins. This is incorrect. Repentance may lead to this but this is not what repentance actually is. When Jesus called people to repent, he was calling them to change their thinking: What is good and what is evil? What is righteous and what is unrighteous? What is Godly and what is ungodly? To recognize what was sinful and what was holy. Under the Law repentance was focussed on moral sin. Under the New Covenant of grace repentance focuses on unbelief and a change of mind that leads faith in God and then a change of actions. The Greek word to repent is μετανοέω metanoeo. Strong defines repentance as to think differently, to reconsider, morally to feel compunction. Thayer defines it as to change one’s mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins. Grace thinking is not sin focussed but Jesus focussed. In grace repentance is about dealing with unbelief that is the root of all moral sin and choosing to believe in God’s goodness expressed in and through Jesus Christ. One of the crucial things that we need to repent of is that we are still sinners under the dominion of sin and that God is angry with us and out to punish us. This is probably the biggest lie that is inhibiting believers today and disempowering the church.

5.2 RENEWED THINKING
Rom.7:23 “I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members”.
2Co. 10:3-5 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.
Most spiritual warfare is in the mind and it’s all about believing or doubting God’s grace, goodness and the sufficiency of the finished work of the cross for you personally. The key is repentance – which means a change of mind about what is good and what is bad, what is Godly and what is evil. This then results in a change of actions. Renewal of t he mind from sinful patterns of thinking comes about when we accept we are in a state of grace which allows the truths and promises found in the scriptures to be appropriated in faith and to change our thinking (Rom.12: 2). We replace lies from Satan that have taken root deep within us with truths from the scriptures. We reject any thinking or teaching that says Satan, sin, death and sickness etc. have a right to afflict us or that God is out to punish us. Under grace all the enemies rights and any punishments have been cancelled at the cross (Col.2:14). We are no longer afflicted for sin and any thinking that says otherwise has to be rejected.

5.3 NO CONDEMNATION
Rom 8:1-4 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”.
John 8:10 -11 “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Freedom from condemnations is one of the most important aspects of Jesus grace. Jesus was condemned so we could be free from condemnation. Jesus made it clear in the above scriptures that his ministry is not one of condemnation but grace and salvation. On the other hand the Law is a ministry of condemnation (2Co.3:9) and those who mix law and grace will constantly feel condemned and guilty. Sadly, so many believers still separate themselves from the Lord and beat themselves up because they carry the guilt and shame of past and present sins and short comings. To focus on sin and short comings will drive us crazy and result in double mindedness about who we are as children of God. Declaring that we are unworthy sinners denies what Jesus has bought for us on the cross and denies God’s grace. This is a false and misplaced humility and robs us of joy and life in Christ. Condemnation and guilt are the biggest cause of sickness, depression, fear and passivity in Christians. Let it be known today that the Scripture clearly states that we are free from condemnation and we are no longer guilty. When we condemn ourselves we are allying ourselves with the work of Satan, who along with the Law (Jn.5:45) is the Accuser (Rev.12:10). Satan’s very name means one who accuses and condemns. We must stop condemning and disqualifying ourselves, stop our anguish over our failures, stop punishing ourselves, or expecting punishment for something that Jesus has already paid for, been punished for, and dealt with on the cross. To focus on our sin instead of focusing on our righteousness (Ro.3:22) is tantamount to denying the effectiveness of the cross. Our sins, past present and future are completely forgiven (Heb.10:17) and we need to learn to live in God’s wonderful state of grace by focusing on Jesus. Knowing Him, trusting Him and abiding in His grace empowers us to say “No” to sin and to overcome (Titus 2:12). We believe the Word of God; the solution to sin is grace (Rom.6:14). Some may say “Ah, but this only applies if you live by the Spirit”. Correct. When we are saved and in grace we are in the Spirit and no longer in the flesh, but “Christians” those who trust in the Law are still alive in the flesh and not in the Spirit and therefore the Law condemns them. Law condemns us as guilty, grace acquits and finds us guiltless. Those who still feel condemned and guilty are those who have a mixed gospel of grace and law or works. Get rid of the law, embrace the good news of grace and be free of condemnation.

6. A SCRITURAL EXERCISE
The Woman Caught in Adultery
John 8:3-11 (KJV), “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us [Leviticus 20:10], that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
Discuss the above story in light of the gospel of grace and Leviticus 20:10. What does the above story tell us of hypocrisy, of God’s grace and no condemnation? Do you think this woman carried on sinning?
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7. A GOOD CONSCIENCE
1Tim. 1:1-20 Holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.
Grace clears our consciences. When we are in grace, understanding that we are forgiven and not condemned, understanding that we are God’s beloved children and righteous in Christ, leads to a good conscience and peaceful mind. Faith isn’t any good unless we have a good conscience within ourselves (Heb.10:22). What are we aware of, our righteousness or our sin? We must always be conscious of our righteousness in Christ and not allow any false teachings or sin to undermine us and shipwreck our faith.

7.1 CONFESSION
1Jn 1:7-10 If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
1 John 2:12. “I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name”.
It’s helpful, good and often needful to confess sin and the things we get wrong if and when the Holy Spirit guides us to do so. It can help us off load our burdens of guilt and condemnation, heal relationships (Jam.5:16) and talk with God about the issues we need help with. When we sin it can be a release to confess what we have done wrong but we need to be clear in our understanding of confession as New Covenant believers in grace. Confession is there to help us off load, it’s not there as a condition. Any conditions added to grace deny the effectiveness of the cross and put the onus back on our performance or “doing” instead of focussing on Jesus. For a Believer there are no conditions that can be added to grace. Once saved, confession is no longer a prerequisite for God’s forgiveness or eternal life. When we came to Christ we repented; we acknowledged that we were sinners that needed help, we confessed our sin (1Jn.1:7-9) and confessed our need to be saved. God responded by purifying us from all sin and unrighteousness through the blood of Jesus, forgiving us, wiping the slate clean and no longer remembering our sins (Heb.10:17). If God says he has forgiven and remembers our sin no more then he doesn’t want us focussing on our sin and reminding him of them, again and again and again. Now that we are in Christ all our sins are dealt with on the cross, past, present and future, whether we are aware of them or not, or whether we confess them or not. The salvation and blood of Jesus is totally and permanently effective; we are now forgiven, righteous and have eternal life, it’s as if we have never sinned. This is the offense of grace. There is a false teaching going around that unconfessed sin separates believers from God and salvation. Think about it, not only is this absurd but it totally denies the work of the cross. It would mean that our sinful actions are more powerful than Jesus’ atonement and shed blood. We know that Scripture teaches that nothing now can separate us in Christ from the love of God (Rom.8:39). The movie “Joan of Arc” is a good illustration of the bad fruit and mental instability which comes with the false doctrine that unconfessed sins separate us from God and condemn us to hell. Joan understood that we all sin all the time, in some way, none of us are or can be righteous in ourselves. However, because Joan had no revelation of grace, she became totally obsessed with confessing her every sin and thus could hardly leave the church confessional. Instead of relying on the finished work of the cross the church of the day (16th century Catholic) had added a law of confession to the cross and made salvation conditional. Likewise, the adjacent cartoon shows in real and practical terms the absurdity of this kind of wrong thinking that makes our salvation conditional on our ongoing confession of our sins. This teaching causes believers to feel unworthy, condemned, unqualified to be intimate with God, and unable to receive anything from God except his wrath for their sins. This kind of obsession with sin and confession actually leads to more condemnation, insecurity and strangely enough, more sin.
On the other hand, putting our focus on Jesus and our righteousness in him brings true life and change! Try confessing what Jesus has earned for you on the cross: “I am righteous, I am forgiven, I am loved, I am blessed, I am a child of God, I am Holy, I have eternal life, sin has no power over me”. This will build you up and this will glorify Jesus.

7.2 HEALTH BY GRACE
Luke 5:23-25 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
Under the Old Covenant of the Law God the Judge afflicted people with sickness because of sin – this was part of the curse of the Law. Grace changed all that. In the above story, when the man knew his sin were forgiven by Jesus healing came. Christians who are not in grace and who have a consciousness of their sinful state, subconsciously disqualify themselves from healing and blessing. They just don’t believe they deserve to be healed and they still believe God is judging them. Condemnation brings death which manifests in sickness. On the other hand consciousness of our forgiveness and a clear conscience from sin leads to healing. If you believe you are still being punished for your sin then sickness is a sure way of this wrong belief manifesting. However when we know our sins are forgiven and we are righteous it will manifest in our physical life.

8. CAN WE LOOSE OUR SALVATION IF WE SIN AS SOME CLAIM?
There are various false teaching concerning sin that need to be addressed if we are to live in freedom and confidence in the finished work of the cross and God’s grace.

8.1 THE HEBREW CONTROVERSY
Heb 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”.
The book of Hebrews is a wonderful letter written to the Jewish believers, probably living in Jerusalem, although it may have been a general letter addresses to a number of Jewish communities. It declares the glorious divinity of Jesus, His eternal heavenly priesthood on our behalf, the finished work of the Cross, the sufficiency and uniqueness of His blood and the grace of a new and better covenant. It is an important letter for us all, in that establishes the replacing of the Old Mosaic Law Covenant by the New Covenant of Jesus’ Grace along with the foundational truth that no other sacrifice except that of Jesus, is effective in dealing with sin. Jesus is the only priest that can sit down in the presence of God – because his work was finished on the cross.

8.2 MISUNDERSTANDING THE ISSUE
Due to a lack of contextual revelation of grace, some parts of the book of Hebrews have been badly misunderstood and misused by those who have added law to grace. Certain scriptures from Hebrews, quoted in isolation can lead to condemnation, a lack of confidence and a waning assurance in the enduring sufficiency of the Cross. These scriptures need clarification in light of our foundational New Covenant beliefs that we are saved only by grace through faith and not by works (Eph.2:8), that we proclaim the Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24), the Spirit of Grace (Heb.10:29) and Jesus’ New Covenant (Heb:10:16-17). We must again reiterate that one of the major issues addressed by all the letters of the New Testament was the division in the Early Church between those who believed Jesus’ work on the cross to be a sufficient atonement for all sin and those that wanted to add Mosaic Law and religious rules to the Cross. Basically the fight was between these two opposing camps and this is the issue the letter to the Hebrews addresses.

8.3 THE CONTEXT OF HEBREWS
The first thing that maybe a revelation to many modern Christians is that the letter of Hebrews was written to Jews and not to Gentile – I’m stating the obvious, that’s why it’s called Hebrews. Unlike most of the letters (except James) it was not addressed to a specific church, to an individual believer or to the saints (meaning born again believers) but to Jews who had various beliefs with regard to Jesus and who were influencing the church in Jerusalem. This is a crucial point to understand as the book was written to a specific people, the Jews interested in, or committed to Jesus, for the specific purpose of bringing them freedom from the Law of Moses, their Jewish traditions and the Temple sacrifices. However as I said before, Hebrews is also an important book for everyone, especially in the African context where many false teachers are mixing Christianity with ancestor veneration and animal sacrifices, just like the Jews of Paul’s time.

8.4 JEWS WITH CHRISTIAN LEANINGS
The very early church consisted only of Jews and for decades Christianity was considered to be a Jewish sect, not a new stand alone religion. The tone of the book of Hebrews indicates that it is addressed to a mixed bunch of Jews who were either Christian, dappling in Christianity. or attracted to the New Christian sect of Judaism. Today there are many Jews who identify themselves as Christians, or with Jesus teachings and still maintain their Jewish cultural identity. These Jewish background believers known as Messianic Jews can be found throughout the world. Praise God! In Paul’s day as within the modern Messianic church there are many different beliefs with regard as to what it means to follow Jesus, who Jesus is, what he did on the cross and how this affects a Jews obligation to both Jewish cultural traditions and the Law of Moses. In Paul’s day there was a huge debate going on over these very issues. Even Peter, James and Barnabas, who like Paul all grew up as Jews, fell into error concerning the Law and sometimes even came out against Paul’s “grace only” teaching (Gal.2:14).

8.5 JEWISH MIXED BELIEFS ABOUT JESUS
Like today, the Jewish “Christians” of Paul’s time had a mixed bag of beliefs about Jesus. Many knew about Jesus, but did not know Jesus as Lord and Savoir – they were not “Born Again” (Jn.3:3) and not all were saved but simply had a strong interest in Jesus. Even some of Jesus closest disciples did not fully understand who Jesus was and eventually fell away. Here are some of the beliefs the Jews had about Jesus, some of which The Book of Hebrews was correcting: Like Moses, Jesus was a just ac powerful and good Jewish Rabbi (Jn.3:2). He was the Messiah /Savoir that would save Israel from Rome’s occupation. Jesus was about to establish the final Messianic Jewish Kingdom (Acts 1:6). He was the prophet Moses had spoken of – but not the Son of God (Jn.6:66). He was the Son of God to be worshipped (Mt.14:33). He was the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world (Jn.1:29). He was a God given sacrifice to unite Israel (Jn.11:4). A blasphemer and false prophet (Mt.26:63). Even today this same struggle goes on with Jews who come to know Jesus. To give you a taste of what some Messianic Jews believe, here is a link to a Messianic fellowship in Israel Shema- what is Messianic Judaism?.

8.6 THE FLOW OF THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
The Jews in Jerusalem were struggling and many had their feet in both camps of Christianity and legalistic Judaism, or a good mix of the two. The book of Hebrews was written to try to draw tries to draw Jews fully into Christ and the his finished all sufficient sacrifice on the cross. To understand the correct interpretation of the difficult passages in Hebrews it is helpful to have an understanding of the flow of the book of Hebrews.
Chapter 1: Jesus was divine and provided a finished atonement for sin (1:3).
Chapter 2: A call for the Jews to pay attention and receive Jesus’ salvation (2:3).
Chapter 3: Jesus is greater than Moses, but the Jews had hardened their heart to the gospel and were still in the sin of unbelief (3:12).
Chapter 4: Like their forefathers were still trying to obtain their righteousness by works (4:10) instead of accepting and resting in the finished work of the cross (Ro.9:31-10:4).
Chapter 5: They were spiritual infants, they did not understand that true righteousness is a gift received by faith (5:13).
Chapter 6: Many of these Jews had heard the gospel and knew the doctrines of Christ and they had seen the Holy Spirit’s miracles. Sadly they still chose Moses Law and the Temple’s animal sacrifices over Jesus’ sacrifice. Having known what Jesus had done on the Cross and then rejecting it for another sacrifice, they could not have their minds changed (6:4). To repentant actually means to change one’s mind and actions and this they refused to do, they would not give up their animal sacrifices. They may have followed Jesus as a Rabbi but they would not accept his sacrifice for their sins and therefore were lost – and in fact were never saved in the first place.
Chapter 7: They were still following the Levitical Priests in the Temple and seeking perfection through the Law instead of righteousness though Jesus, our Eternal High Priest in heaven.
Chapter 8: These Jews were being called to let go of the Old Mosaic Covenant and fully embrace Jesus’ New Covenant in which their sins are totally forgiven (8:12).
Chapter 9: These Jews were rejecting Jesus’ blood sacrifice and still attending the Temple sacrifices (9:12). They were basically claiming that the blood of Jesus was not good enough and they could not enter into Jesus’ salvation because they could not let go of the Laws animal sin sacrifices that were so much part of their traditional culture.
Chapter 10: Here the Law is declared as set aside by the New Covenant (10:9). Those Jews who kept sinning through unbelief, despite knowing the good news of Jesus’ gospel – cannot be saved (10:26). Anyone rejecting grace and Jesus’ blood as sufficient is eternally condemned (10:26-29).
Chapter 11: These Jews are reminded that the father of the Jewish people was Abraham who received righteousness by faith (11:6). Their father was not Moses who taught righteousness by Law – which always failed to produce righteousness.
Chapter 12: The Jews are reminded that the sin of unbelief had always hindered Israel and the Lord had often disciplined and punished them for it (12:5) and yet they still rejected Him (12:14). They were now called to leave the Law given on Mount Sinai and come into the New Covenant through Jesus blood (12:24).

8.7 BACKSLIDE AND LOSE YOUR SALVATION – REALLY?
Heb 6:4-6 “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace”.
Traditionally many teachers claim that this scripture is about Christians who backslide and lose their salvation. This is incorrect, this letter is addressed to Hebrews not to “backsliders” to quote this scripture out of the context of the whole letter is to misuse it. We must remember that Hebrews was written when the temple sacrifices and the Levitical priesthood in Jerusalem was still in full swing and at full power. There was huge pressure for Jewish Christians to still participate in this system, shockingly even from the Apostle James (Acts 21:18-24). The whole context of Hebrews is about Jews rejecting Jesus as their great, heavenly, high priest that replaced the priests in the temple of Jerusalem. So what does these scriptures actually mean in their correct context and how do we correctly apply them today? The Jews, Israel – it’s Scribes, it’s teachers of the Law and the common people had been given God’s word in the scriptures, they had experienced miracle after miracle, they had seen the Holy Spirit touching people. They knew the power of God. They even witnessed firsthand Jesus ministering by the power of the Holy Spirit with amazing signs and wonders – all specifically for Israel (Mt.15:24). They saw Jesus die on the cross and witnessed his and others resurrection (Mt.27:52) from the dead. On Pentecost they witnessed the out pouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles (Acts 2:5). They had been enlightened to God’s plan of salvation by Jesus and the Apostles ministering in their very midst and YET they still chose to reject Jesus and cling to the Law of Moses for their righteousness. No matter how many miracles they saw, no matter how good God was to them they fell away from God’s gift of the Messiah sent to save them. A stubbornness set in, there to this day. Nothing could get them to change their minds, nothing would get them to recognize their sin of self righteousness and rejection of the Messiah. Sadly this blindness also affected some Jewish Christians believers who never fully rejected the Law and accepted Jesus as their righteousness. This scripture still applies to Jews today who still reject Jesus despite all the evidence that he is their Messiah.

8.8 SIN AND YOU LOOSE YOUR SALVATION – I DON’T THINK SO?
Heb 10:26-29 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left…..how much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
This scripture has be used to teach that if we deliberately sin after being saved then we lose our salvation and can never regain it. Just thinking about this carefully will show that it is error. Quite simply, if we are honest, we have all deliberately sinned since we have been saved. We have all been tempted at some stage and we have all fallen. Thank God that is exactly why grace is available to us. In his love God has given us grace and remembers our sins no more. To use Hebrews 10 to teach that sin can cause us to lose our salvation is ultimately to deny the effectiveness of the cross and condemn ourselves to hell as we all have and will fall short of perfection and righteousness if it is based on our sinless performance. If we say we are without sin we are liars (1Jn.1:8). We are then in the dangerous position of denying grace and taking up an arrogant self righteous position. So you may ask what is the deliberate sin does this scripture refer to? It is deliberate unbelief in Jesus. As we have said earlier the sin the Holy Spirit is concerned with is unbelief in the Son of God, this is then sin he convicts people of (Jn.16:9), this is the unforgivable sin. The whole context of Hebrews is about the Jews accepting or rejecting Jesus as being greater than Moses, being their great high priest of grace, and being their atonement for sin. The sin that condemns all men is the sin of unbelief, the sin of deliberately rejecting Jesus after hearing the good news of his salvation and grace. This is the unforgivable sin. Reject Jesus and one’s sins can never be forgiven, one can never bring any other sacrifice that will save.

8.9 GOD NEVER LETS US GO ONCE WE ARE HIS
To conclude. Using these scriptures from Hebrews in an incorrect way shows a complete misunderstanding of God’s grace, righteousness, the work of the cross and how we are saved in the first place. Our salvation is not and never was, conditional on our performance or our self righteousness. Salvation has and will always be God unearned and undeserved gift of God’s love to all who would take hold of it in faith. If salvation is based on our performance then we are all lost (Ro.3:9) because at some point in our lives, if we are honest, we may either backslide or may intentionally sin – without grace, no one is righteous and we are all lost. Although we are no longer sinners we do know that without Jesus’ grace we are the worst of sinners and we are lost. This is the humility we walk in. When we see a sinner our attitude is not one of self righteousness and arrogance but one of compassion and mercy, knowing “There but for the grace of God goes me” (1Tim.1:15). The parable of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:22) clearly teaches that the Father never lets His sons go, once a son always a son, even if you reject being a son. We may be unfaithful to God but he will never be unfaithful to us. He will never let’s those who are truly saved walk away, it’s no longer our choice. We no longer live but Christ lives in us (Gal.2:20), we are now an inseparable part of Him. We are sealed eternally by the Holy Spirit (Eph.4:30).

8.10 ARE WE RESCUED BUT THEN THROWN TO THE SHARKS?
Teaching that sin can cause us to lose our salvation is like a Coast Guard who rescues his own son from drowning only later to throw him back in the sea because he behaves badly or is not grateful enough. Come on, God’s not like that. So brothers and sisters, be of good cheer and get rid of any doubt that you can lose your salvation, it’s a lie that denies the effectiveness of the Cross and God’s unconditional love. If you are a “back slider” or have deliberately sinned and allowed that to separate you from God, call out to the Father and receive His forgiveness and love once again. He will empower you in grace to hold the course and say no to sin.

8.11 THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN
Mat 12:31 “And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven”.
Many Christians live in fear that they may have or will committed the unforgivable sin that Jesus talked about in the above scripture. This condemnation and fear is a scheme of the devil and is a wrong belief that needs to be repented of. Firstly this scripture was not addressed to people generally but specifically to the teachers of Israel, the Pharisees who actually new that Jesus was the Messiah and full of the Holy Spirit but still chose to reject his offer of salvation and call the Spirit within him, demonic. Not only did they reject salvation but they slandered God himself, despite knowing the truth. The unforgivable sin is simply rejecting the Holy Spirits revelation of salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ. Anyone who know the truth and dies in their sins can never be forgiven.

Now we understand we are free from sin we need to focus on our righteousness and identity in Christ. In the next part we will look at our righteousness.

9. GROUP TIME
I the group discuss the issue of that ALL our sins are forgiven and our traditional over consciousness of sin. Is the message of grace too good to be true? How do you feel?
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Group exercise and questions. Please answer the following questions.
What sin has God forgiven?
Do believers have a sinful nature?
Name three types of sin.
What sin is the Holy Spirit concerned with?
What is sanctification?
How are we sanctified?
What is God solution for sin?
Who is our Advocate and what does he do?
What does the Greek word metanoeo mean? Explain.
What happens if we do not confess a sin?
Can we lose our salvation, if so how?

9.1 EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNERS
If you are doing this course by Email it should ideally be done in a networked group setting with a minimum of five people so that an active discussion can take place and different viewpoints explored. Those doing the course at a distance by Face Book or Email should discuss the questions below in a study group either on line or at an actual group meeting. Individual should then answer the questions and email a copy to us at study @gracelovetruth.com for evaluation as this will help us to see the effectiveness of the teachings and how to improve them. We will endeavour to answer any questions that are unresolved by the end of the course. This course is free but we do ask that you help promote its use by telling your friends and other churches about it. Also please send us the names and emails of all participants so we can keep in contact with further course updates. All Email information will be kept private and confidential.

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Celebrate the Cross

CELEBRATE THE FINISHED WORK OF THE CROSS

The link to this teaching is http://gracelovetruth.com/?p=1134

bloodcross                 Cross333
Did you know that Jesus’ death on the cross was not just some arbitrary punishment because he opposed the religious leaders and Roman authorities of the day. Jesus intentionally died on the cross for the specific purpose of fulfilling the requirements of the Old Covenant spiritual Laws, especially the Law of Sin and Death and the Law of Moses.
The spiritual Laws of the Old Testament demand that there must be a death and blood sacrifice before anyone can be set free from their sins. Easter celebrates the fact that Jesus’ finished work on the cross fulfilled all the requirements of the Old Testament Law’s and through this fulfilment of the Law Jesus overcame the power of sin and death…..this is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. All who receive Jesus are now righteous, forgiven, accepted, beloved children of Abba. We, the church, the Bride, now have a loving and intimate with Jesus our bridegroom…. believe it, Jesus suffering, humiliation and death on the cross earn it for us. He became like sin so we could be righteous.

SPIRITUAL LAWS
The Scriptures define a number of spiritual Law systems, the main ones being:-
i) The Law of Sin and Death: If you sin you die both spiritually and physically Gen 2:16-17 Ro.8:2-4. (The Old Adamic Covenant)
ii) The Law of Moses: If you obey all the Ten Commandments all the time, you will be blessed. If you fail in any one aspect at any time, you are cursed Deut. 28:1-68. Blessing and curses are based totally on your performance. (The Old Mosaic Covenant)… Hum, that’s bad news!
iii) The Law of the Spirit of Life: If you are ‘born again” the Spirit of Christ lives in you. You are righteous and in Grace. You now have full abundant physical and spiritual life along with God’s abundant blessings. Rom. 8:2-4. John 1:16-17 (The New Covenant)… Yeah, now there’s some good news.

 

goodnews                          righteousness
THE CROSS HAS SET US FREE FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT LAW SYSTEMS
Acts 15:5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.” (Answer: No they don’t)
Col 2:13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code (the Old Testament Laws), with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
The good news (the gospel) is that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection fulfilled and effectively cancelled the bad news of both the two Old Testament Law systems that either caused death or cursed us. The Cross brought in the New Covenant System of Grace known as The Law of the Spirit of Life.

cross4            crucified

YOUR OLD SIN NATURE WAS CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST.
Gal 5:24 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”.
The flesh sin nature embraces sin and opposes the will and the Spirit of God (Rom.8:3-8). The only way to be freed from the sin nature is to die to self, and to be “born again” (Jn.3:5-6). The good news is that the sin nature of those who have turned to Christ has been nailed on the cross with Christ (Gal.2:20). We have been baptized into Christ’s death (Ro.6:3). The sin nature of believers is dead. It’s memories and habits may still plagues us but our sin nature is dead in Christ. Now we do need to allow our minds to be renewed and our actions sanctified by the Word and the Spirit, and this takes time but the good news is we are no longer slaves to sin and can now say “no”because of what Christ did on the cross (Ro.6:14).

Gal.2:17-21 (The Message) “Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? No great surprise, right? And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan. What actually took place is t his: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily”.

Be full of joy. He died but death could not hold him , nor us,. He is risen and glorified!!!!
Happy Easter.

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Introduction to the Grace Love Truth Course.

(the fast link to this page is http://gracelovetruth.com/?p=1102)

Preamble

In this time when there is an ever increasing rise of legalistic religions, the Holy Spirit is re-establishing the church in Jesus’ unique Gospel of Grace which Paul refers to in Acts 20:24.
For this purpose we are presenting this powerful eight part Bible based The Grace-Love- Truth Course that will revitalize your spiritual life and understanding of the good news of Jesus’ grace.

The purpose of the course is:

right1To change wrong beliefs that are barriers to intimacy with Jesus.
To emphasise the unique message of Christianity: Salvation and life through Jesus Christ, by grace and not by works.
To reveal Jesus’ finished work on the cross and what this means for us today.
To enable us to understand God’s amazing favour that is revealed in Jesus.
To establish us in our identity as beloved and blessed children of the “Abba” Father.
To empower us to live in God’s gift of grace, righteousness and  blessings.
To remove false teachings that make us feel unworthy and disqualified.

It is not our intention to impart more knowledge about Jesus but rather to help us to know Jesus in a more real and intimate way.

Please note that there is copyright on this material but it is published with the intention of it being freely and fully available to the worldwide Church. We do ask that if you use the course you simply acknowledge  www.gracelovetruth.com and you let us know by email at study@gracelovetruth.com . Be blessed!

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV ® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.)

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Course Contents

1. The Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24)
2. The New Covenant (Hebrews 8:10-13)
3. Law and Grace (2 Corinthians 3:6)
4. Grace overcomes Sin (Romans 6:14)
5. Righteousness is a gift of grace (Romans 3:22)
6. Children of God – our new identity in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:17)
7. Our union with Christ (Galatians 2:20)
8. Grace empowers us for mission

 

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The Author – Garry Hare

This course has been written by Garry Hare who is the founder of Grace Love Truth Ministries and is chairman of Heart to Heart International.

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Garry was born in Bristol England in 1956. His family emigrated to South Africa in 1967. Garry was educated in Johannesburg and graduated with a diploma in Civil Engineering in 1979. He worked in construction primarily as the CEO of his own property development company until going into full time self supporting ministry in 1996.
Garry and his family live in Kloof, Durban and he has been married to Annette since 1981. They have three children; Ryan (28), Simone (24), Jonathan (18), and three foster children; Amanda (13), Dion (11) and Sakina (13) and one grandchild; Ari (2).
Garry grew up in a non-Christian family but early on he attended traditional English church schools. As a young adult he was involved in the “New Age” movement and dabbled in a number of religions. He was radically saved in 1991 after a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit at a Christian healing service. After being “born again” he was initially involved with “Christian Ministry to Jews” (CMJ) and an employment ministry for the workless. In 1996 Garry went into full time ministry with New Wine (SA), a Charismatic Renewal Ministry and also ministered in the local Anglican Church of Kloof, Durban, where he was formally ordained in 2000. Garry has ministered in churches of all denominations and types throughout South Africa and in various parts of the world, including Finland, Holland, UK, Korea, China, Vietnam, Kenya, Tanzania,  Mozambique and Ethiopia.
Garry left the Anglican Church in 2002 to found “OrphanAid” and to fulfil a call to help establish a network of easily reproducible, relational, simple church communities among the poor and needy. This also involves mentoring young leaders, teaching and equipping believers from various church backgrounds and caring for AIDS orphans. In 2005 Garry and Annette founded “Springside Place of Refuge and Safety”, a safe home for abused women and children. Garry handed over the leadership of OrphanAid and Springside to a local team of leaders in 2010. Garry is chairman of Heart to Heart International which is an NPO umbrella organization to a number of ministries. Garry is a trustee and teacher at Kloof Theological Centre whose aim is to provide solid Biblical teachings to the both the local and wider church. Garry and Annette are also involved in pastoring in a network of relational, small, simple, local churches. Garry and Annette also have a close association with Sarepta  Kloof. Since 2009 Garry has been involved in sharing the gospel with Muslims and helping encourage the persecuted church.
Garry and Annette are accountable to a group of other mature Christians from various church backgrounds, as well as the team which they are part of. They are also linked in with many local churches.
Garry and Annette have a passion for: Jesus and His kingdom, family, sharing the good news of Jesus’ grace, establishing believers in their identity as God’s beloved children, the empowering of the Holy Spirit, mission to the poor, needy and oppressed, authentic Christian community and church, the unity and rich diversity of the church, the breaking down of racial, cultural, denominational, educational & economic divides, raising up young leaders and using technology to share the good news.
Over the years God has blessed Garry and Annette in their business dealings and they have their own financial means of support.
Garry’s present calling and focus is to help establish the wider church in the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ (Acts.20:24) and teach on how to practically live out the love and grace of God.

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goodnews

 

The first part of the eight part course  The Gospel of Grace can be found at
http://gracelovetruth.com/?p=1095   or you can email us at  study@gracelovetruth.com  for PDF or Word printable files which are in a better format and can be emailed to others.

 

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PART 1. THE GOSPEL OF GRACE.

Please request a copy of the PDF  file which is a better format with charts and pictures from  study@gracelovetruth.com     The  web quick link to this teachings http://gracelovetruth.com/?p=1095

Part 1:  THE GOSPEL OF GRACE

 LESSON 1 of PART 1: GRACE

1.  AMAZING GRACE.

1.1  WHAT IS GRACE?

1.2  WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE ALONE (Sola Gratia)

1.3  IT’S NOT MAINTENANCE BY WORKS

1.4  JESUS’ GRACE IS OUR RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD

1.5  GRACE PREACHING HAS GREAT HISTORICAL ROOTS

1.6  SALVATION BY GRACE IS THE FULL PACKAGE OF LIFE NOW

1.7  GRACE QUALIFIES

1.8  GRACE BLESSES

1.9  GRACE OFFENDS

2.  ONE GOSPEL

2.1  ONE MESSAGE OF GOOD NEWS

2.2  THE GOSPEL OF GRACE AND THE KINGDOM

2.3  STICK TO THE GOSPEL OF GRACE

3.  GROUP EXCERISE

3.1 THE PRODIGAL SON

LESSON 2: THE GRACE WAY TO USE SCRIPTURE

4.  THE SCRIPTURES

4.1  PRINCIPLES OF BIBLE READING

4.2  THE EIGHT C’S

4.3  THE SCRIPTURES REVEAL JESUS

4.4  TWO WAYS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

4.5   GOD’S GIFTS OF GRACE

5.  SCRIPTURE IN THE CONTEXT OF GRACE

5.1  THE CONTEXT OF DIVISION IN THE EARLY CHURCH

5.2  LAW KEEPERS AND GRACE BELIEVERS

5.3.  A SCRIPTURAL EXERCISE

5.4  QUESTIONS

6.  FOR EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNERS

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 INTRODUCTION

 Jesus, the most wonderful gift of Abba Father to the world.  Jesus is grace, and the Holy Spirit is once again deepening this truth in the Body of Christ, the Church. This is wonderful and good news. We are privileged to be living in an amazing time for the church and the kingdom – a time as the church has never known before. Five hundred years ago, the Holy Spirit gave the Reformers, one of whom was Martin Luther, a revelation that we are saved and justified by grace alone. This revelation started to free the church from the false doctrine of salvation through good works. The revelation that salvation was by grace and not by dead works was the catalyst that brought mankind out of the Dark Ages.

Sadly, history shows that the revelation of grace was not fully received and implemented by the Reformers. The majority of church Reformers, who taught salvation by grace alone, ultimately established theologies and governmental church systems that were founded on a mixture of grace and Law.

The good news is that God is rectifying this shortfall. This is a time of amazing Holy Spirit revelation and new reformation that is revitalizing the church. The church is once again focussing on the centrality of Christ, his Cross, his grace and that we are beloved children of Abba Father – for these are the foundations of His kingdom.

For the first time since the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit is bringing the church back to the understanding that not only are we saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, but we are called to live everyday by the grace of Jesus. Correctly understanding grace and how grace qualifies us in every way is crucial to the effectiveness of the church in this era where there is an increasing flood of harsh legalistic religion.

Without a revelation of the grace and the love of God (1 John 4:16), it is actually impossible to know the truth of God’s purpose for mankind and the church. Grace, truth and Jesus Christ are inseparable (John 1:17).

LESSON 1 of PART 1: GRACE

1.  AMAZING GRACE.

              1.1  WHAT IS GRACE?

John 1:14  The Word (Greek: logos) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Firstly, as hard as it may be to grasp, in Christian terms, grace is not a doctrine or a concept, grace is a person, Jesus Christ. Without Jesus there is no true grace. Jesus is grace personified. There are of course doctrines of grace found in other spiritual disciplines such as the New Age Movement, however true Godly grace and Jesus Christ cannot be separated. As Christians we are not called to reveal and promote grace, but Jesus Christ. Emphasising a doctrine of grace can divide and confuse, but revealing the person of grace, Jesus Christ brings us together as the Body of Christ, his Church.

The first mention of grace in the New Testament is found in John 1:14. The New Testament Greek word for grace is “χάρις” pronounced “charis”. Thayer’s defines this as that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness and a grace of speech, goodwill, loving-kindness and favour, of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. The Greek word “charis” is closely related to the foundational word “χαίρω” (chairō), meaning to rejoice, be glad, to rejoice exceedingly, to be well and to thrive.

The first mention of grace in the Old Testament is found in Genesis 6:8, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”  The Old Testament Hebrew word for grace is “חן“ (chen) pronounced “khane” which Strong defines as subjectively meaning; kindness and favour and objectively meaning;  beauty, favour, grace, pleasant, precious and well favoured. In the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, the Hebrew word “khane” is translated as the Greek word “charis”.

A closer study of Scripture and the practices of Jesus will show that grace is:

Our unearned, unconditional blessing from God.

The free gift of eternal life.

God’s goodness to us.

His unconditional, freely given, love for us.

God’s empowerment of us by His Spirit.

The fulfilment of God’s promises in Christ.

God’s riches at Christ expense.

Jesus’ fulfilment of Scripture and Law on our behalf.

God’s empowering to overcome sin.

Our qualification before God.

Blessing upon blessing.

The  expression of God’s love.

God’s mercy plus God’s adoption as his children.

Simply put, grace is  God’s unmerited, undeserved and unearned favour in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-10 “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

This is the great revelation of Jesus Christ, the unique truth of Christianity, the dividing line between Christianity and all other religions, salvation is by grace alone. There is no other religion or system of faith that offers such a good deal. Religion per se, is always about works and performance, grace is about relationship with Jesus Christ.  The characteristics of salvation by grace are that it flows from God’s great love and mercy. It is based on the kindness of God. It is centred on Jesus Christ and His life imputed to us. It is activated and appropriated by faith; a trust in God’s goodness. It is a free gift from a loving heavenly Father. Nothing on our part has, or can earn this gift. Our good or bad works have no bearing on our salvation and therefore we have nothing we can boast about as nothing we did or did not do qualified us in any way to be saved. We were created for the purpose of being saved by God’s grace to be intimate children with our “Abba” Father (Ro.8:15) and be his ambassadors and agents in this world. We lovingly and joyfully carry out his will and do his works. These works do not earn or maintain our salvation but are simply preordained for us as God’s children and ambassadors in Christ (2Co.5:20).

Romans 11:5, “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.  And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”

The big battle in the minds of many believers is that good works still have some part in maintaining our justified, forgiven and saved state. Scripture makes it very clear that this is not so. To add any condition, work  or law to grace is to deny the sufficiency of God’s grace and the finished work of the cross. Grace living is about a total dependence on God’s goodness and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. It is not based on our ability or will to do what is right. The good works we now do flows out of the grace we have received, not the other way around. The root of true and godly works is the grace of Jesus Christ and our intimacy with “Abba”.  “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

              1.2  WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE ALONE (Sola Gratia)

Eph 2:4-10 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.   And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

This is the great revelation of Jesus Christ, the unique truth of Christianity, the dividing line between all other religious. Salvation is by grace alone. There is no other religion or system that offers such a good deal. Religion per say, is always about works and performance, grace is about relationship with Jesus Christ.

The characteristics of salvation by grace are: that it flows from God’s great love and mercy. It is based on the kindness of God. It is centred on Jesus Christ and His life imputed to us. It is activated and appropriated by faith; a trust in God’s goodness. It is a free gift from a loving heavenly Father. Nothing on our part has, or can earn this gift. Our good or bad works have no bearing on our salvation and therefore we have nothing we can boast about because nothing we did or didn’t do qualified us in any way to be saved. We were created for the purpose of being saved by God’s grace so that we can then do God’s will and works. These works do not earn or maintain our salvation but are simply preordained for us as Gods children and ambassadors in Christ.

               1.3  IT’S NOT MAINTENANCE BY WORKS

Rom 11:5  So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.  And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

The big battle in the minds of many believers is that good works still have some part in maintaining our justified, forgiven and saved state. Scripture makes it very clear that this is not so. To add any condition or law  to grace is to deny the sufficiency of God’s grace and the finished work of the Cross. Grace living is about a total dependence on God’s goodness and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. It is not based on our ability or will to do what is right. The good works we now do flow out of the grace we have received, not the other way around. The root of true and Godly works is the grace of Jesus Christ. We love Him, because He first loved us (1Jn.4:19).

Act 15:11  No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

Rom 3:23  …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Rom 4:16  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

              1.4  JESUS’ GRACE IS OUR RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD

Our right standing or righteousness with God is his love gift to us through Jesus Christ. Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to all who choose to believe in him as Lord and Saviour. This is the great exchange that took place on the cross. His righteousness for our sin. We are no longer slaves to sin but we are now slaves to righteousness (Rom.6:18). This will be discussed in more detail in part 5.

              1.5  GRACE PREACHING HAS GREAT HISTORICAL ROOTS

The present emphasis on grace alone is not new. The centrality of Jesus’ grace is both scriptural and historical. Many great historical preachers and teachers understood the significance and uniqueness of Jesus’ grace.

i) Martin Luther (1483-1546).  The great German Reformer.

“This grace of God is a very great, strong, mighty and active thing. It does not lie asleep in the soul. Grace hears, leads, drives, draws, changes, works all in man, and lets itself be distinctly felt and experienced. It is hidden, but its works are evident”….

“So Paul in Titus 3:5-7 discards all boasted free will, all human virtue, righteousness, and good works.  He concludes that they are all nothing and are wholly perverted, however brilliant and worthy they may appear, and teaches that we must be saved solely by the grace of God, which is effective for all believers who desire it from a correct conception of their own ruin and nothingness.”  “Yes, dear friend, you must first possess heaven and salvation before you can do good works.  Works never merit heaven; heaven is conferred purely of grace.”  “The delusive doctrine of works blinds the Christian’s eyes, perverts a right understanding of faith, and forces him from the way of truth and salvation.”  “He who does not receive salvation purely through grace, independently of all good works, certainly will never secure it.” “Truly, then, we are saved by grace alone, without works or other merit.”  “Notice John 3:16, all who believe have eternal life.  That being true, believers certainly are just and holy without works.  Works contribute nothing to justification.  It is effected by pure grace richly poured out upon us.” “We receive forgiveness and grace at no cost or labour on our part, but not without cost and labour on the part of Christ.”  “Our salvation must exist, not in our righteousness, but…in Christ’s righteousness. …Let his righteousness and grace, not yours, be your refuge’. (M. Luther, Sola Gratia, sermon on Titus 3)

ii) Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). Famous Evangelical London preacher .

“It is grace at the beginning, and grace at the end. So that when you and I come to lie upon our death beds, the one thing that should comfort and help and strengthen us there is the thing that helped us in the beginning. Not what we have been, not what we have done, but the Grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. The Christian life starts with grace, it must continue with grace, it ends with grace. Grace wondrous grace. By the grace of God I am what I am. Yet not I, but the Grace of God which was with me.”

“We are Christians entirely and solely as the result of the grace of God. Let us remind ourselves once more that ‘grace’ means unmerited, undeserved favour. It is an action which arises entirely from the gracious character of God. So the fundamental proposition is that salvation is something that comes to us entirely from God’s side. What is still more important is this, that it not only comes from God’s side, it comes to us in spite of ourselves—‘unmerited’ favour. In other words, it is not God’s response to anything in us. Now there are many people who seem to think that it is—that salvation is God’s response to something in us. But the word ‘grace’ excludes that. It is in spite of us. Salvation is not in any sense God’s response to anything in us. It is not something that we in any sense deserve or merit. The whole essence of the teaching at this point, and everywhere in all the New Testament, is that we have no sort or kind of right whatsoever to salvation, that the whole glory of salvation is, that though we deserved nothing but punishment and hell and banishment out of the sight of God to all eternity, yet God, of His own love and grace and wondrous mercy, has granted us this salvation. Now that is the entire meaning of this term ‘grace’. Creatures who were spiritually dead are now alive—how has it happened? Can a dead man raise himself? It is impossible. There is only one answer, ‘By grace ye are saved’.  (God’s Way of Reconciliation—An Exposition of Ephesians 2, 1972, p. 130.)

iii) Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), influential English preacher and evangelist.

“If heaven were by merit, it would never be heaven to me, for if I were in it I should say, ‘I am sure I am here by mistake; I am sure this is not my place; I have no claim to it.’ But if it be of grace and not of works, then we may walk into heaven with boldness.”

iv) Watchman Nee (1903-1972), Chinese evangelist, author and church planter

“Grace means that God does something for me; law means that I do something for God. God has certain holy and righteous demands which he places upon me: that is law. Now if law means that God requires something of me for their fulfilment, then deliverance from law means he no longer requires that from me, but himself provides it.” “Man cannot rely on his own merit before God; it would overthrow the Lord’s work, as though He had died in vain”. “His Grace is sufficient! He has provided everything for you, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ”. “We go to Christ for forgiveness & often the law to fight our sins: Foolish Galatians!…The righteous will live by faith.”

v) D.L. Moody (1837-1899), prolific American evangelist.

“Grace means undeserved kindness. It is the gift of God to man the moment he sees he is unworthy of God’s favour…. Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. The Law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along to straighten me out.”

vi) A.W. Tozer (1897-1963), famous American preacher and author.

“All the infinite attributes of God rejoice together when a man believes in the grace of God and returns home (Luke 15)”. “Grace is the goodness of God confronting human demerit”. “As mercy is God’s goodness confronting human misery and guilt, so grace is his goodness directed toward human debt and demerit”. “Abounding sin is the terror of the world, but abounding grace is the hope of mankind”. “It is by His grace that God imputes merit where none previously existed and declares no debt to be where one had been before”. “The cross is the lightning rod of grace that short-circuits God’s wrath to Christ so that only the light of His love remains for believers”. “Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits on the undeserving”. “The grace of God is infinite and beyond our ability to measure. His grace has no beginning and therefore no end”.

              1.6  SALVATION BY GRACE IS THE FULL PACKAGE OF LIFE NOW  

John 10:10 “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, till it overflows”

One of the great misconceptions concerning salvation is that it simply means to be saved from sin and death – to receive eternal life. Jesus grace earned so much more than that for us. Salvation is much more than just a future heavenly life to come, it is full and abundant life now. Grace is a continuing way of life. The Greek word “to be saved or salvation” is “σώζω”, sozo. Thayer defines it as, “to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction, from injury or peril. To save a suffering one from perishing, i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health. To preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue. To deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment and to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance.”  “Sozo” is a package of both future eternal life and the gift of abundant life right now. Grace not only brings us eternal life but health, wholeness, safety, forgiveness, blessing and victory over evil – today. This is kingdom living – accepting his gifts and learning to live and reign in Christ right here and right now. Grace qualifies us and empowers us in every way for this victorious kingdom life that is a witness to those around us.

               1.7  GRACE QUALIFIES

Col 1:12  “Giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

Many believers constantly feel unworthy and undeserving. This results in spiritual paralysis and passivity. This is one of the biggest indicators of a Law based belief system or the mixing of Law and grace. Unworthiness stems from the belief that it is our own performance or righteousness that  qualifies us to be used by God. Deep down they know that this is a shaky foundation which will always fail. Many live with a deep unspoken fear that God will at some stage “take away” or bring about terrible hardship to teach them a lesson or punish them because they have fallen short.  When they are blessed they either feel guilty or undeserving and suspect that it’s too good to be true. This mentality is founded in Law. The Law always disqualifies us because it always points out our faults. Grace on the other hand qualifies us and points to Jesus as our only qualification. Jesus’ grace and kingdom is unshakable (Heb.12:28) and therefore empowers us, gives us assurance and confidence to be blessed and minister effectively and with spiritual power.  Under grace we have confidence as we know that God is there to help us at all times (Heb.4:16).

              1.8  GRACE BLESSES

John 1:16 (Amp.)  “For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favour upon favour and gift [heaped] upon gift”.

The Law of Moses blesses and curses based on our performance. In contrast the abundant overflowing grace of Jesus bring us blessing and blessing because it is based on Jesus’ performance and righteousness. Under grace our sin and curse has been transferred to Jesus on the cross and his righteousness and blessings has been transferred to us. It is the great exchanged of the cross – so we are now able to live with the expectation of God’s continual blessing. Even when times are hard and suffering is intense, we live in hope and anticipation of the better to soon come through grace.

              1.9  GRACE OFFENDS

Galatians 5:11 “Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision (i.e. the Law), why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.” 

The cross heralded in the new system in which we are called to live – that of God’s grace. Grace is scandalous. It is hard to accept, hard to believe, and hard to receive. Grace shocks us in what it offers as it defies our judgement based on logic. It is truly not of this world,  it frightens us with what it does for sinners. Grace teaches us that God does for others what we would never do for them. We would save the “not-so-bad”, but God starts with prostitutes and then works downward from there. Grace is a gift that costs everything to the giver; Jesus, and nothing to the receiver; the sinner. It is given to those who do not deserve it, barely recognise it, and hardly appreciate it. That is why God alone gets the glory for our salvation that is by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8). Jesus did all the work when he died on the cross, “It is finished!” (Jn.19:30). Grace focuses on Jesus work and performance, not ours.

2.  ONE GOSPEL

               2.1  ONE MESSAGE OF GOOD NEWS

Luke 4:18  Jesus read “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor”.

The Greek word for gospel is “εὐαγγέλιον,” euaggelion, meaning a good message or good news. We are called to preach and teach the good news of Jesus Christ and His kingdom which is founded on God’s grace. The gospel is described in a number of ways in the Scriptures:

The gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24)

The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1)

The gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:3)

The gospel of God (Romans 1:1)

The gospel of peace (Romans 10:15)

Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16)

The gospel of Christ (Romans 15:19)

These designations are merely contextual and definitive. They are all one in the same single gospel which has been progressively revealed since the fall of mankind and was finally given to the Apostle Paul in its fullness by the glorified Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12).  A combined description of the gospel would be: “The good news of the grace and peace of God’s Son, Jesus Christ and His kingdom”.

              2.2  THE GOSPEL OF GRACE AND THE KINGDOM

Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.  Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.”

The unique revelation that the glorified Jesus Christ gave to the Apostle Paul was the link between the kingdom and grace. Paul makes it clear in the above scripture that he was preaching the kingdom of God, but that his unique calling from Jesus calling was to testify to the Gospel of Grace. The revelation and manifestation of the kingdom reign and rule of Jesus Christ, first in the hearts of believers and then in the world, can only fully come about under the system of grace founded in Christ and His finished work on the cross. In a sense grace is the system by which the kingdom is administered, just as democracy for instance is the system of administration in the United Kingdom.  Jesus declared in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Jesus preached this knowing that His gift of righteousness is the foundation of the gospel of grace (see the part 5 on righteousness) which brings about entrance and citizenship in the kingdom of God. This is the link that in times past has been missed. Many have preached the kingdom but have failed to see the link between the kingdom and grace.

Colossians 4:6 states, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”. Our response to the enquiries of the world is Jesus’ grace and that the kingdom of God and grace are inextricably linked.

 2.3  STICK TO THE GOSPEL OF GRACE

Galatians 1:6-7, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”

Finally it is clear that undermining the gospel of grace is one of the keys schemes of Satan (Eph.6:11) and his false prophets and teachers. Adding law to grace nullifies grace and denies the effectiveness of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The Holy Spirit speaking through Paul was well aware of this battle and  issue. The reading of Galatians, especially Galatians chapter 1, reveals the intensity of the battle to maintain the purity of the gospel.

Read through the following Scriptures: Galatians 1:1-24, 3:1-14 and reflect on the passion of Paul’s defence of the gospel and grace.

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3.  GROUP EXCERISE

               3.1 THE PRODIGAL SON

The famous parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 shows the Father’s grace towards someone that should have been stoned according to the Law of Moses. But there is also another son in the story. This parable contains some of the most pertinent lessons on grace found in the Scriptures. Carefully read this parable and comment on what you believe Jesus was trying to teach about the Father’s love, acceptance and  how to live in grace.

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LESSON 2: THE GRACE WAY TO USE SCRIPTURE

4.  THE SCRIPTURES

An important aspects of understanding the grace that is ours through the living Word, Jesus Christ, is that grace is based on firm biblical and historical foundation. Grace is not some new doctrine or revelation, grace is and always has been the foundation of the gospel. When we have strong biblical foundations then the intimacy, hope and blessings that come through Jesus and his grace cannot be undermined. As you go through this study course please spend time looking up all the scriptural references quoted in brackets and allow the Holy Spirit to establish the Word in your heart and mind. As you go through each part, at first, there may unanswered question that arise. Many of these will be answered as the course progresses, so hang in there. If by the end of the course you feel any question has not been answered sufficiently please spend time in prayer and the Scriptures asking the Holy Spirit for revelation. You may also email us at study@gracelovetruth.com if you still feel clarification is needed and we will endeavour to help.

Scripture is the in the Holy Spirit’s progressive revelation of Jesus’ gospel of grace and His kingdom. This gospel is found in shadows and types throughout all the Old Testament scriptures. If we accept the fact that the ultimate purpose of all Scripture is to reveal Jesus Christ, his righteousness, his salvation, his grace and his kingdom, it will affect the way we read and interpret Scripture. The purpose of this first lesson is to clarify the way the early church would have use and understood the Scriptures and how we need to have a similar understanding so that we can fully delve the truths of Jesus and his grace.

              4.1  PRINCIPLES OF BIBLE READING

John 3:3  Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

These are some of the principles we will be applying when reading Scriptures:

We believe that all Scripture (The Bible) is from God and in its original language, is without error. It has spiritual authority and power. It is alive and active for each new day. It reveals spiritual truth about the spiritual kingdom of God and therefore can only be truly understood in its fullness through the revelation of the Holy Spirit to “born again” believers.  To correctly interpret any scripture;

1. Scripture is used to interpret scripture.

2. The principle of first mention is helpful  i.e. the first time something is mentioned will shed light on all subsequent mentions.

3. Scripture, especially the Old Testament, is highly symbolic, poetic and prophetic. The Jews would have picked up on these nuances and hidden meanings which form a thread through their generations and history.

4. Every word found in the scriptures is there for a reason and has a meaning. Numbers have meanings, animals have meaning and especially names have meanings. Knowing these meanings sheds light on what God is trying to reveal or teach us about His plan of salvation. Here are a few suggested examples:  The name Job means hated, Sarah means grace, Isaac means laughter. Lambs;  generally represents Jesus the atoning sacrifice of God. Blood; is pointing to Jesus blood sacrifice for our sins. Flour; is pointing to Jesus body crushed for our healing. Sweat; is pointing to man’s self effort, good works of self righteousness. Thorns; is pointing to the Law of sin and death and the curse of the fall. Mountains; spiritual kingdoms. Gold; God’s glory. 5 = divine grace. 6= man (and his fall). 7= perfection or rest

4. The Scriptures reveal one of the core underlying themes since the Fall of man; God dependant righteousness (Ro.3:21), which pleases God because it’s source and focus is his Son, Jesus. As opposed to man’s independent self righteousness, which we will show that God hates because its source and focus is man, man’s will and man’s own ability (more on this important truth in part 5).

5. Because of God’s different covenants not all Scripture applies directly to born again believers, but all Scripture is valid, important, useful and insightful (we will look at covenants in part 2).

6. The New Testament is a fulfilment of the Old Testament and it is directly linked and does not stand on its own.

7. Jesus acted in a specific ways so as to fulfil the Old Testament Scriptures, the Jewish people knew and recognized this.

8. The mindset with which we approach Scripture affects what we are able to receive from Scriptures. To those who seek Law, it teaches Law, to those who desire grace, it reveals Jesus as grace.

              4.2  THE EIGHT C’S

There are many varying opinions on the way to use the Bible. Applying the following eight “C” points can be a helpful way to gain revelation and understanding of any scripture, especially in the context Jesus’ grace:

Christ: How does it reveal and point to Jesus as Lord and Saviour and our intimate relationship with him?

The Cross: What does it say or imply about the finished work of the cross?

The Context: Who and what issues was it originally addressing? Have we read the whole message . What is the context?

The Covenant: Which covenant applies to this scripture, Law or Grace?

Citizenship: What does it say about the kingdom of God, our citizenship thereof and the Holy Spirits leading?

The New Creation: How does it point to the new creation – the born again believer?

The Church: What is it telling us about God’s people – the church and fellowship?

God’s Children: What does it say about the children of “Abba” God?

              4.3  THE SCRIPTURES REVEAL JESUS

Jesus is the living Word and  Scripture is the revelation of the Word (Greek: logos), who is Jesus. It is not a rule book, but the revelation of Christ. It reveals God’s plan to save mankind through Jesus. The Scriptures cannot save anyone, only Jesus can.

John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

John 5:39 – “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.”

Luke 24:27 – “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

Acts 18:28 – “For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”

2 Timothy 3:15 – “And how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

Mark 14:49 – “Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”

              4.4  TWO WAYS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Rom 3:21  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

A foundational theme of all Scripture is that there are basically two systems of “getting right” with God. One works and the other fails! (More on this in part 5).

1. Self righteousness through the knowledge of good and bad: Good works and religious Law keeping by self effort. Self dependant righteousness.

2. God’s gift of righteousness through revelation and faith in his Saviour, Jesus Christ: God dependant righteousness.

              4.5   GOD’S GIFTS OF GRACE

The New Testament Scriptures reveal the fulfilment of God’s promises. Through the grace of Jesus he has pour out gifts upon us his children, to empower us to be his representatives and ambassadors in this age through the gifts of……

Jesus and his life

Unconditional love and acceptance

Salvation and eternal life

The Holy Spirit

The power of the Spirit

Righteousness

Holiness

Forgiveness

A new nature

The gifts of the Spirit: Tongues, interpreting tongues, prophecy, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, healings, discerning spirits, faith, working miracles.

Sonship (children of God)

Citizenship in the kingdom of God

The fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, perseverance, self control, goodness, faithfulness

Health and prosperity

The Church

As we go through this course you will see why you are qualified in every way, through the grace of Jesus, to receive everyone of these gifts in full and abundant measure. Blessed to be a blessing!

5.  SCRIPTURE IN THE CONTEXT OF GRACE

John 1:17 – “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

This Scripture clarifies the context in which born again believers seek to understand the Scriptures. Scriptures are often quoted out of context. When this happens, a scripture can take on a totally different meaning to its original intended use. As the saying goes, “A scripture taken out of context is a con.” A very important principle is that the context of a scripture is essential to correctly understanding that scripture.  For instance;  Jesus said in Matthew 5:29-30, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away… and if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” We all know that there is no way Jesus expected us to literally apply this, otherwise we would be a church of blind, one handed people. However taken out of context some may justify doing exactly as he said –  as in Saudi Arabia today. However, taken in the context of the whole teaching which starts in Matthew 5:1 and ends in Matthew 7:28, we see that the actual issue was the self righteousness and hypocrisy of the religious Jews and that the keeping of the Mosaic Law could not make one righteous enough in God’s eyes.

5.1  THE CONTEXT OF DIVISION IN THE EARLY CHURCH

To correctly understand some of the most important parts of the New Testament and to root ourselves in the New Covenant and the Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24), we need to understand one of the major issues that Jesus was addressing through Paul – what was the context of Paul’s letters?

One of the major issues of Paul’s day was the division and conflict within the churches between Christians from a Jewish background and Christians from a gentile (pagan) background. Even Peter and James fell into the trap of promoting divisions over the Law of Moses, and Paul rebuked them for it (Gal.2:11).  “So what?” you may say, “I don’t have any religious Jews in my church.” That may be true, but this basic issue of Law or grace is still evident today among all Christians and it affects the way we read the Scriptures, the personal way we understand the gospel and how we live out “The Gospel of Grace” in love and faith.

              5.2  LAW KEEPERS AND GRACE BELIEVERS

The conflict between these two groups, Jews and Gentiles, arose because:

1. The Christians from a Jewish background believed that they were more godly and holy because they and their families had kept God’s Law for generations (Ro.2:17). They believed that their Jewish culture had refined them and made them a holy people. They believed that they came into the church with a holy advantage, a holy credit, earned by their family’s generational good works in keeping the Law of Moses.

2. Sadly these Jewish Christians looked down on, and judged Christians with a Greek/Roman culture because their culture was idolatrous and prone to be sexually immoral. Admittedly many of the Greek believers had not fully come free from the “free love” that their culture permitted, in Jewish eyes this made them second class Christians. However the irony was that the Jewish believers secretly did the same things! (Ro.2:23-24).

3. The Jewish Christians believed the gentile Christians needed a good dose of The Law of Moses to get their lives right. After all they claimed “It worked for us Jews”.

4. Intrinsically these judgmental Jewish Christians did not believe that God’s grace and the Holy Spirit  in the gentile Christians was enough for their sanctification.

5. They proclaimed to the gentiles that the Law was needed in addition to being saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.

6. They judged the gentile Christians harshly and told them that only The Law of Moses could control their immoral lives.

This self righteous and judgmental attitude of the Jewish Christians and their call to implement the Mosaic Law to curb gentile sin was found throughout the church, in Rome (Ro.4:13-15), Galatia (Gal.3:1-5), Corinth and Ephesus. This judgmental attitude obviously caused great hurt, anger and division in the churches.

It was these compounded errors that Paul’s letters address:

i) Holiness and righteousness is by the grace of Jesus Christ alone (1Co.1:30).

ii) The keeping of laws imposed on us by others no longer has a place in the Christian life (Ro.6:14).

iii) We are now led by God’s Spirit and God’s Word which lives in us. Not by rules, church canons, regulations and laws (Gal.2:20)

The interesting thing that has been missed by many is that Paul points out to both the Jews and the Jewish Christians that their godly inheritance and history was actually far from holy. Even though their ancestors knew and heard God (unlike the pagan nations) they still chose to worship idols and engage in sexual immorality right under God’s nose, even on the day the Law of Moses was given at Mount Sinai (Reading the books of Judges and Kings confirms their ongoing sin). If you wish to look deeper into the depth of depravity and godlessness of Israel and what God was feeling, also read Ezek.23:14-21, but be warned its X rated stuff.

Paul rebukes the Jewish Christians in Romans 1:21-25, because of their sins listed in Jeremiah 32:34, Ezekiel 8:10, Judges 19:22, Exodus 32:1-6. Basically Paul says, “How dare you judge the gentiles who didn’t know God, when you and your forefathers, who did know God, chose to do the very same things. So much for Israel’s Law-keeping, you unholy, self-righteous hypocrites!”  (Jesus had similar strong words for the Jewish religious teachers of the day).

The same applies today, we need to beware of religious hypocrisy and judgmental attitudes. We are called to live in the grace of Jesus Christ. He alone can enable us to live holy lives by the Holy Spirit, not external laws and rules imposed on us by others. We are righteous by the blood of Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Word.

When we read the Bible let us read and seek revelation through the lenses of grace, not with the lenses of the Law.

              5.3.  A SCRIPTURAL EXERCISE

Before the first group meeting, read through and meditate on the following scriptures. Consider them in the context of the above teaching and answer the questions.

Act 15:11. We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 4:16, “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.”

The issue of Jewish superiority and hypocrisy: What was it?: How do you think it affected church life, their ability to rest in God’s grace and advance the God’s kingdom? In today’s church context are there similar issues and attitudes? What do these Scriptures teach us in relation to grace, fellowship and the preaching of the gospel today?

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              5.4  QUESTIONS

Answer the following questions.

Comment on legalistic religion.

What are some of the principles that can be applied when reading scripture?

What claims did Jesus make about the scriptures?

Explain some of the divisions in the early church and their causes.

What did Jesus say about hypocrisy?

What are dead works?

What is grace?

How do we received grace?

Explain the Greek word, “sozo”.

When and how did Paul get the gospel?

What is the main theme of Galatians 1 &2?

What is the good news?

How did part 1 help you, how can it be improved?

 6.  FOR EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNERS

If you are doing this course by Email it should ideally be done in a networked group setting with a minimum of five people so that an active discussion can take place and different viewpoints explored.  Those doing the course at a distance by Face Book or Email should discuss the questions below in a study group either on line or at an actual group meeting. Individual should then answer the questions and email a copy to us at study@gracelovetruth.com for evaluation. This will also help us to see the effectiveness of the teachings and how to improve them. We will endeavour to answer any questions that are unresolved by the end of the course. This course is free but we do ask that you  help promote its use by telling your friends and churches about it. Also please send us the names and emails of all participants so we can keep in contact with further course updates. All Email information will be kept private and confidential.

Now that we have established a Biblical understanding of the grace, in part 2 we will look at the New Covenant agreement that God, our loving, heavenly “Abba” Father, has made that guarantees us his blessing and grace through Jesus Christ.

Be blessed!

 The copyright for this course belongs to G.R.Hare. However, it is published with the intention of being freely and fully available to the worldwide Church. We do ask that if you use the course you acknowledge  www.gracelovetruth.com and you email us at study@gracelovetruth.com to confirm use. Please pass it onto others. 

 

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bloodcross

THE CROSS

http://gracelovetruth.com/?p=1054

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THE NEW COVENANT STARTS AT THE CROSS

              2.1. THE CROSS REVERBERATED ACROSS TIME AND SPACE

Rev 13:8  “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”.
Zec 12:10  “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son”.

The prophet  Zechariah foresaw the coming of the Holy Spirit and Grace and how this was linked to the crucifixion of the Firstborn Son, Jesus Christ.  The Book of Revelation prophetically declares the eternal timeless significance of the death of the Lamb of God on the Cross. The Cross is beyond doubt the most significant world changing event in history. There is nothing more significant either in the spiritual or physical realm than the Cross. It is the most profound, earth shattering event that reverberated both into the both past and future. The Cross of Christ is the core and the under laying foundation of our Christian Faith and belief system. All scripture, both before and after the cross, points to the Cross and its affects. Without the Cross, Jesus would be no more significant than any other religious teacher or Guru. It is the Cross defines Christ and Christianity. It is the great divide of history.

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              2. 2. WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED

1Co 1:23  “We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles”.

We do not just preach Jesus Christ – even Islam does that. Even Israel was prepared to accept Christ as the Prophet, a Rabbi and even a Messiah King. No! We preach Christ Crucified. This is the uniqueness of Christianity . We preach Christ – His life, death, resurrection, ascension and glorification at the right hand of God. The Cross was and still is, a huge stumbling block to many as it is offensive to all those who are religious, self righteous and feed on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

              2. 3. JESUS FOCUSED ON THE ATONING WORK OF CROSS

Mat 16:21-23  “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.  Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Some of Jesus’ closest disciples failed to see the significance of the Cross. Jesus whole earthly life had one ultimate purpose, the Cross, and he would allow no one to distract him from fulfilling this calling. Jesus knew the Cross would change everything as the cross would deal with the divide between man and God. Peter acting in the flesh, opposed Jesus going to the Cross – Jesus called him “Satan!” Peter got angry at Jesus’ arrest and tried to resist with the sword – Jesus again rebuked him.  Eventually Peter was so upset with the prospect of the Cross that he ended up denying Jesus. Jesus atoning work on the Cross was the start of the New Covenant and is the foundation of the New Covenant of the Grace of Jesus Christ. From this incident we Peter see that man’s flesh nature and natural intellect cannot understand (1 Cor.2:14) the Cross and will always oppose the Cross. The Cross and it’s power ultimately has to be a spiritual revelation within the hearts of man, as it the natural it’s just foolishness.

              2. 4. THE CROSS DEALT WITH SIN ONCE AND FOR ALL

Col.2:13  “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins”.

Condemnation 1

Before the Cross there was no permanent atonement for sins. The Law of Moses was in force and bought death and a curse on all (this is expanded upon in part 3). No one was righteous in God’s eyes, no one could be saved. At the cross the power and dominion of Sin was destroyed once and for all – for all those who would be saved. The Cross opened the flood gate of God’s unearned and undeserved Grace (Jn.1:17), the forgiveness of sins. The Cross destroyed the power of Sin and provided a way for man’s “Adamic sin nature” to be put to death on the Cross with Christ (Gal.2:20). Now for those in Christ, all sin – past, present, future –  is atoned for.  (More on the issue of sin in part 4). This is the corner stone of the New Covenant and Grace.                                                        

              2. 5. THE CROSS CHANGED JESUS’ FOCUS FROM ISRAEL TO ALL MANKIND

Mat 15:22  “A Canaanite (gentile) woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

pharisee1

Although Jesus is and always will be the Saviour of all mankind, Jesus’ earthly ministry was firstly and primarily to Israel (Mt.15:24) and its leaders – those under the Old Covenant Law of Moses. Most of Jesus teaching of this time were directed to Israel’s teachers, the Pharisees, who had wrongly interpreted the Law, did not understand the spirit of the Law and misapplied the Law. They had wrongly assumed that righteousness and salvation could be obtained by works (Ro.9:30-10:4). Jesus taught against their hypocrisy and their self righteousness. To those who chose Law Jesus preached Law, to those “Sinners” who were broken and contrite Jesus showed grace and forgiveness. During this time Jesus alluded to the fact that He was going to bring salvation also to the gentiles (Jn.10:16) but His ministry to the gentiles only really came into effect after the Cross, primarily through the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:15).

              2. 6. GRACE IS NOW THE ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM OF GOD’S KINGDOM

Through the Cross the Law was fulfilled and done away with for Believers (Ro.6:14). The reign and rule of Christ and His kingdom is now bought into affect by the Spirit trough the system of grace – not religious rules, regulations and laws. The preaching of the Kingdom now goes hand in hand with the preaching of the good news of God’s grace (Acts 20:24) – his unearned, undeserved, forgiveness, blessing, favour and empowering.

              2. 7. THE CROSS CHANGED OUR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD

Col.1:20  “Through Jesus He reconciled to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”.

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Under to Old Covenant we were salves to sin and alienated from God. But now God is no longer angry with us or out to punish us for our sins. We are now at peace with God (Col.1:20). In the New Covenant God no longer relates to us based on our performance or sin. In fact he remembers our sins no more (Heb. 10:17). God now sees us as part of Jesus. We are the Body of Christ.  We are no longer God’s slaves or servants but beloved sons in Christ (Ro. 8:15) and God now relates to us as a loving and kind Father. (More on our new relationship with God in Part 6)

              2. 8. THE CROSS CHANGED OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

John 16:7  “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor (The Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you”.

Prior to the Cross, under the Old Covenant, the Holy Spirit came upon certain Godly people at certain times for a certain purpose. But His presence was not permanent. The Spirit was understood as the power of God that came and went as and when God determined. Due to man’s un-atoned sin the Holy Spirit could not live within people but only “come upon” them in a temporary way. After the Cross, under the New Covenant, the sin condition of man was dealt with and the Holy Spirit came through Jesus Christ to abide in His Body the Church;  all those who believed and are regenerated. The Holy Spirit is now a permanent seal and guarantee within all those who are saved. The Holy Spirit is now understood to be the third person of the Trinity and not just a force or power. The power of the Holy Spirit now released within and through Believers for the ministry and work of God. It is life in the Spirit (Ga. 5:16) that fulfils the purposes of the New Covenant.

              2.9. THE CROSS RELEASED REVELATION

John 12:16  “At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him”.  2Co 3:14  “But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away”.

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Before the Cross there were certain aspects of God’s Kingdom and Jesus’ teachings which could not be fully understood (Lk.9:44-45). Firstly because those under the Law of Moses were spiritually blind and had a spiritual veil over them which stopped them from understanding God’s Grace and God’s true purposes. Secondly because it is only the witnessing of the Cross; Jesus, death, resurrection and ascension that can clarifies and fulfils the scriptures. Jesus warned his disciples that prior to the cross and the infilling of the Holy Spirit there were certain things that they simply could never understand (Mt.15:16) (Mt.16:11) and other things that were still to be revealed, such as God’s Grace and gift of righteousness (Ro.5:17) which could not come through ministry of the earthly Jesus but only through the ministry of the heavenly Jesus, our great Heavenly High Priest.

              2.10. THE CROSS REVEALED THE FULL GOSPEL OF GRACE

Gal.1:12  “I did not receive the gospel (of grace) from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ”.

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During His earthly ministry Jesus never fully revealed Salvation by Grace, He simply alluded to it as displayed it in practice (Jn.8:1-11 and Lk.15).  After the Cross, the glorified Jesus (Jn.12:16) reveal even more aspects of the Kingdom and Grace to the Apostle Paul (Gal.1:12). In a sense this was the final revelation and clarification of The Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. All other scriptures need to be interpreted in the context of Jesus’ final revelations and scriptural teachings given to the Apostle Paul who was caught up into heaven and taught by the glorified Christ (2 Co.12:2).

              2.11. THE CROSS DISARMED SATAN

Col 2:15  “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross”.

Curses

Under the Law of Sin and Death (Ro.8:1) which was later reinforced by the Mosaic Law, God allowed Satan to accuse and afflict those who sinned. This Satanic power of condemnation and affliction has been removed through the Cross. Satan no longer has any Law given rights to attack or afflict those who are in Christ. In Christ and through the Cross, we now have victory over the enemy and we have a great High Priest and mediator in heaven, Jesus Christ, who intercedes and defends us.

              2.12. THE CROSS CHANGED THE COVENANT

Heb.9:15  “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.   Col.2:14  Having cancelled the written code (The Law), with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross”.

i) THE OLD COVENANT:

Prior to the Cross the Law of Moses was the only covenant effectively in force through which people could relate to God. Gentiles who wanted to know God had to covert to Judaism and come under the Law of Moses.  The terms of this covenant are harsh and deadly as it is based on an unattainable holiness and righteousness that no man can fulfil. There are blessing and curses (Deut 28) based on ones behaviour. However no one can be justified and saved through keeping The Law of Moses (Gal.2:16) as the sole purpose of the Law is to lead people to Jesus, God’s Saviour (Gal.3:24) and remind Israel of the Abrahamic foundation that righteousness is actually by faith alone (Gal.3:8).

NAIL TO THE CROSS

ii) THE NEW COVENANT:

Heb 8:6-13 “The ministry Jesus has received is as superior to the ministry of the Jewish High Priests as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the New Covenant is established on better promises.  For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant (of the Law), no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear”.

The shedding of the blood of Jesus as an atonement for Sin heralded in this New Covenant of Grace in which sins are forgiven and forgotten. This New Covenant was no longer just for Israel but opened the door for all the gentiles to be saved as well. The New Covenant fulfilled and replaced the Old Covenant for all those who believe in Christ. The good news is that the blood of Jesus, instead of our own blood, is the blood seal for the New Covenant. The terms and conditions of the covenant are fully and eternally fulfilled by Jesus and not by us. The New Covenant is unique in a sense that it is intrinsically between two persons who are one;  God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We as believers, have access into this covenant not as ourselves but only as part of the Body of Jesus Christ (1Cor.12:27) which we are included into when we believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. One of the easiest ways to understand the New Covenant is that it was prepared by the loving Father for His Son. It is a relational, marriage agreement between His Son, Jesus, the bridegroom and the His Bride, the Church (Jn.3:29)(Rev.19:7). The good news of this covenant is that there are blessings upon blessing (Jn.1:16-17) and abundant overflowing grace.

Improving life grace graph

 

 

 

 

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licence 4

GRACE – A LICENCE TO SIN?

Question: Why, O why, do you who oppose Jesus’ grace claim that preaching grace is a license to sin when the scriptures teach the exact opposite?
Rom 6:14  Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

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CARNAL LOGIC

1Co 2:14  The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
It’s because Jesus’ grace is offensive to carnal, soulish, thinking (1Co.1:12-16) and can only be accepted in one’s spirit by the Spirit. God’s grace always offends and confuses all who ultimately exalt carnal knowledge and logic above Spirit revealed, scriptural, truth. There is no worldly logic in God’s grace. No logic in the fact that God himself died for Sin and freely pardons ALL our sins.  This is because it’s God’s heavenly wisdom, thinking and His ways are simply not man’s ways. God’s way of Grace offends the flesh and fleshy thinking but exalts the Spirit within that reveals the deep truths found in Christ alone and confirmed by the scriptures.

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SIN IS BAD AND DESTRUCTIVE

Rom 6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Please hear me everyone… Sin is evil, destructive and harms us all. No one is sayings sin is good and no one is handing out licenses to sin. Anyone claiming that teachers of Jesus’ Grace are saying sin is OK and sin doesn’t matter, are simply confused or at worst, lying. What we are saying that sin isn’t our focus and obsession anymore -Jesus is.

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ANTI-LAW? – NO!

Rom 3:20 No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin….. Rom 5:20  The law was brought in so that sin might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
Are we anti the law. In no way! We are not anti the Law, we uphold the Law as the Law is good and powerful when used for its correct purpose. i.e. To emphasis and expose sin, especially the sin of self righteousness, and lead Sinners and Pharisees to Jesus and His Grace. We are anti the misuse of the Law which harms and condemns believers. At the moment the Law is being misused by many, as a means of bulling and controlling believers, as a tool for maintaining justification and sanctification and for instilling fear into believer’s lives – all of which is error.

 law bully

GRACE IS GOD’S SOLUTION FOR SIN

Tit 2:12 Grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…. Rom 6:14  Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
In some Christian circles, grace has become a swear word. But despite all this opposition to grace, let’s be clear – whether you like it or not, the Bible teaches that God’s solution for sin is His Grace released through the cross. Not our moralizing, not our ranting again sin, not our legalizing, not self righteousness, not our own logic and strength and not our denial of God’s grace – its Jesus’ grace alone that has dealt with Sin and empowers us to live righteous lives.

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WORKS RELIGION

Heb 9:14  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
It may be that those who won’t fully accept the gospel of God’s Grace needs go elsewhere with their law gospel. There’s a Mosque or an Orthodox Synagogue near you and the self righteous feel very comfortable there –  living by laws, rules and regulations. I believe they are looking for good law preachers….but seriously brothers, don’t abandoned the Gospel of Grace, God needs us to share the Good News, not the bad news of Law, works and condemnation.

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A LICENSE OF FREEDOM

2Co 3:15  Even to this day when Moses is read (i.e. The Law), a veil covers their hearts.  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
I know freedom scares law preachers, because at the end of the day they don’t believe the Word in the New Testament scriptures or the Holy Spirit’s ability within believers to do the work of holiness. They believe more in the power of sin than the power of the Cross. But where the Spirit of The Lord is there is freedom. In Christ, we preach HIS gospel of Grace and Kingdom (Acts 20:24) and we handout licenses of freedom from sin. The bold print is clear: We are forgiven and have freedom from the slavery to both sin and death. We are now citizens of a new Kingdom, with a new King – and by His Spirit we live.

Licence 2

NO SMALL PRINT

On a Grace License, signed with the blood of Jesus, there’s no hidden, horrible, legal conditions written in small print, so we are not afraid of being deceived or dragged off to court again. The conditions are clear, we are free, forgiven and now under Jesus’ grace and beloved children of the Father.

Finally, let’s proclaim the good news; “Sin is no longer my master, because I’m under Jesus’ grace”. The question is for all of us: “Is sin still my master?” If so turn away from your dead works and unbelief, be humble, repent and accept Jesus’ free gift of Grace and forgiveness today.

Be blessed and loved.
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TEST FOR GRACE

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HOW DO YOU KNOW IF SOMETHING IS GRACE OR LAW?

We need to live in Jesus’ grace by the leading of the Holy Spirit. It’s important that we, God’s people, free ourselves from the ministry of the Law (i) because the Bible teaches that the Law brings condemnation and death (ii) – these manifest in passivity, depression and sickness (iii). Sadly brothers and sisters many believes are experiencing this horrible fruit of the Law, often convinced that it’s God punishing them or training them.

Because most of us have grown up with a mixture of grace and religious law, many find it hard to distinguish whether what they are hearing or thinking is rooted in grace or Law. One can’t generalize but over the years I have found  that Believers can test by asking the following questions. This simple test that will normally expose if the root is Law or Grace.

1. If it points to Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross – it’s normally grace.
If it points to you and what you should be doing for God – its normally Law.

2. If the fruit in you is condemnation or guilt – it’s Law.
If the fruit in you is freedom – it’s grace

3. If it’s about God’s judgment and punishment – it’s Law.
If it’s about God’ love and forgiveness – it’s grace.

4. If it harps on about your sinfulness – it’s Law.
If it focuses on your Christ given righteousness – it’s grace.

5. If it’s about, techniques, methods and principles – it’s Law.
If it’s about hearing and being lead by the Holy Spirit – it’s grace.

6. If it restricts or discourages you form sharing and ministering – it’s Law.
If it encourages and releases you to share and minister – it’s grace.

7. If it causes you to judge others – it’s Law.
If it causes you to see the God given potential in others – it’s grace.

8. If it from the Old Testament without pointing to Jesus or the New Covenant – it’s Law
If it reveals Jesus and the good news of His New Covenant – it’s grace.

9. If it accuses you, like Satan the accuser,- it’s Law
If it affirms you – it’s grace

10. If it’s focus is on you being God’s servant or slave – it’s Law
If it  declares you to be a beloved child of The Father, who is about the Fathers work – it’s grace.

11. If it’s about your performance  – it’s Law.
If it’s about resting in Christ – it’s grace

12. If it’s focus is you obeying – it’s Law.
If it’s about Jesus’ obedience – it’s grace.

13. If it declares you cursed – it’s Law.
If it declares you blessed – it’s grace.

14. If the focus on what you sow – it’s Law.
If the focus is on what Jesus has sown on the cross – it’s grace.

15. If it causes to to fear and run away from God – it’s Law.
If it stirs up faith and intimacy with God – it’s grace.

There are many more that I’m sure you can think of, let me know. Be wise and be discerning, test all things, including this.

Blessing and love to you in Christ.

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THE SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES

(i) Gal 3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
(ii)Deu 28:15 However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees (The Law) that I, Moses, am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you……..
(iii) 2Co 3:7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was,  will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?  If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!

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GRACE 3: MIXING GRACE & LAW

NAIL TO THE CROSS

THERE IS REALLY GOOD NEWS

The Holy Spirit is bringing us back to the foundations of The New Covenant:

1) Grace = God’s Unmerited Favor, Love and Blessing.
2) Our Righteousness in Christ = Our Right Standing with a good and loving God.
3) That Righteousness by faith is the key to understanding grace.
4) The finished and all sufficient work of the cross of Jesus Christ.
5) Our focus on our Righteousness (in Christ) instead of on our Sin.

MIXING LAW & GRACE
Many of us, without realizing it have been living our Christian lives by a mixture of grace and Old Testament Law. We have been trapped to a lesser or greater degree, in a cycle of self effort, perfectionism, unworthiness, condemnation, sin, guilt and sickness. To break these cycle we have more often than not resorted to imposing more religious laws, rules, demands and conditions on ourselves. All requiring even more self effort. After decades of trying to live this way many of us have become worn out, sick and joyless – it’s simply all too much for us.

There are two reasons why it is crucial that this issue be confronted:
1) This mixture is killing Christians and driving them to sin!
2) This mixture denies the effectiveness of the work of the cross and dishonors Jesus.

LAW PRODUCES DEATH
Paul’s teachings, especially in Romans and Galatians, makes it clear that we are not called to live by the Law or by a mixture of Law and grace. This mixture is in fact the main theme of most of Paul’s writings. He was constantly trying to deal with those Christians and non-believers in the Church who denied the sufficiency of grace and wanted to live and maintain their right standing with God (Righteousness) by keeping the ten commandments and other religious laws.

Paul teaches that trying to keep the Law produces condemnation, sickness and death. The Law is not there for us to live by but it is there to expose the sin of the unsaved and to emphasis their need for a savior. (I am happy to go through this scripture by scripture if anyone would like).

BUT JESUS PREACHED THE LAW
The problem is that when we look at the scriptures in the traditional way it appears that there is a lot of performance demands and law keeping placed on us, the New Covenant believer.  Jesus clearly taught the keeping of the law, however it was in a specific context to those seeking to be justified (made righteous) by the keeping of the law, the self-righteous Jews. It is crucial that we read Jesus teaching in context and understand to whom the teachings were addresses otherwise we will bring ourselves under the Law.

READING SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT
As New Covenant believers, when interpreting any scripture we must be seek to answer the following questions:
1) What is the context of the scripture
2)  Who is speaking. ii) Who is he speaking to.  iii) What issue was being addressed.
3) Is this teaching the Old Covenant or the New Covenant.
4) What Covenant are the people under who the teaching is addressed to.
5) How does this point to, or reveal, Jesus and His Kingdom.
6) How does this point to, or reveal, the cross and grace.
7) Does it expose self-righteous religiosity or righteousness by faith.

LAW OR GRACE TINTED GLASSES
If we realize that we have incorrectly mixed law and grace and have also taken scripture out of context, we will understand that this has affected the way we have interpreted scripture. When we choose to believe in grace we can re-examine the scriptures in their true context and from a position of pure grace. You will find that this will be an amazing journey and reveal glorious good news in Christ. For many it is like reading the Bible for the first time!
Discovering the Grace and Righteousness that is ours in Christ, our freedom from law keeping and self effort restores your joy and zeal for the “gospel, the good news”.  Try it, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the difference between legalistic, mixed Christianity and Grace filled, Christ centered, Christianity.
A good example to start with is:

THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN  (REVISITED IN GRACE)
Luk 10:25  On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”26  “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”27  He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  28  “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”29  But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”……..

THE TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATION
The story of the Good Samaritan is probably one of Jesus’ best known parables. We all learnt it as kids and were encouraged to be just like the good Samaritan. He was the epitome of the way a good Christian should live. We were constantly told a good Christians must  “Love their neighbor”. This, it is said is the purpose of the parable.  However, this generally accepted interpretation of this parable is a self- righteous law orientated view which has lead to huge condemnation and guilt among Christians, who in the majority of instances have found it difficult and actually impossible to fulfill in practice.

THE GRACE INTERPRETATION
You will be surprised to hear that the noble and worthy sentiment of “Loving our neighbor as yourself” was not actually the primary and core issue that Jesus was addressing in this parable. Sadly we have missed the crucial truth that Jesus was actually addressing.
Now if we choose to re-examine this parable in its context and from the position of grace we see a completely different message -almost the opposite to what we have traditionally been taught!

THE CONTEXT OF THE PARABLE
Jesus was speaking to an expert in the Law of Moses, a Pharisee, a Jews that believed he could be justified i.e. be made righteous, by keeping the Law of Moses.
This teacher was trying to catch Jesus out (Lk.10:25). The greater context was Jesus’ constant struggle against the self-righteous, legalistic religious practices of the Jews. These Teachers of the Law, the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus into speaking against Jewish Religion, the Law and the Temple so they could justify arresting him.
This Pharisee believed he was righteous and justified because he had supposedly kept all the Laws of Moses.
He wanted the JUSTIFY HIMSELF (v29), he definitely wasn’t looking for a savior.

TO THOSE UNDER LAW JESUS PREACHED LAW
This Pharisee, like all Jews, was under the Law of Moses. They believed that the Law of Moses had been given so that they could justify and save themselves through their good works and self effort.
This Pharisee was self-righteous and wanted people to know that he had kept the Laws that God required of him.
It appears from v25 that this Pharisee is wanting to know how to get eternal life, however as a Pharisee and Teacher of the Law, he already believed he had eternal life by keeping all the Laws of Moses….the truth is that “he wanted to justify himself” (v29) and wanted Jesus to confirm that his self-righteousness and law keeping was good enough.
Jesus in his amazing way now used the Law of Moses to expose this man’s self-righteous, the fact that no one can keep the law perfectly and that no one can obtain eternal life through keeping the law.
It is interesting how Jesus does this and it is a pattern He uses throughout the gospels when preaching to Jews e.g. The Rich Ruler (Mt.19:16) etc.

ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH THE 1st & 2nd LAW – REALLY?
(Lk.10:25-27) Put yourself in this parable and imagine you were the Pharisee and you ask Jesus:
Your question: ” Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?
Jesus answer: “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
Your answer: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Jesus answer:”You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
Now you have just quoted the first and second commandments. You know what is required but do you have eternal life? Have you and do you really love God with every part of yourself all the time. Hum, maybe, but I know I’m already falling short. How about loving your neighbor, all the time just like you love yourself…now I don’t know about you but now I know I really do fall short. Do you get what’s going on here?  Are you sensing that if eternal life has to come through keeping the Law we are all in deep trouble and need a Savior, including the Pharisee – the problem is that unlike you and me, the Pharisee didn’t know it, he thinks he’s OK.

THE REAL MEANING OF THE PARABLE
This Pharisee thought he could keep the whole law perfectly, thus be justified and gain eternal life, without Jesus, without grace.
Now the real purpose of the parable comes out.
The Pharisee has agree with Jesus that to gain eternal life he must love his neighbor as himself.
The Pharisee even asks Jesus “Who is this neighbor – that I must love like myself”? (v29)
Jesus then tell him the parable about the neighbor.
Jesus asks the Pharisee the shocking and tricky question “Who do you think was the neighbor”? (v36).
Look at it carefully, who was the neighbor?
The neighbor that the Pharisee is called to” love like himself” so he may gain eternal life turns out to be the Samaritan! (v36).
So here is the whole point: To be justified through keeping the Law the Pharisee has to perfectly obey the second commandment (and in fact all ten) and to do this he has to love a Samaritan.
However there is a problem as John 4:9 says “Jews do not associate with Samaritans” and  shows the Jewish attitude to them 8:48  “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
The Law say he can’t go near as Samaritans as they are considered unclean
Hum, a big problem!! To keep the law he has to break it and if you break the law you lose his justification.
Meditate on this and you will see the whole purpose of the parable is completely different to the traditional view.

THE TRUE ISSUE OF THE STORY
Jesus was teaching to those who wanted to hear: No one can be justified by the keeping of the law and that everyone need to acknowledge that they fall short and needs to be saved by Jesus.
By the way it’s good and wonderful to love our neighbors but it won’t get us eternal life.

You will find that if you re-examine the scriptures in context and in grace many of them will reveal completely different truths to the traditional interpretations…try it for yourself, it’s wonderful and exciting and glorifies Christ and his work on the cross.

A FINAL PROVOCATIVE THOUGHT
Isn’t it strange that the Churches whose central focus and doctrine is “Regular and ongoing confession of sins” are often racked with the most terrible sins at the highest level. Could it be that law (legalistic Christianity) really does stir up sin just like Paul says? Yes, we all hate sin but it’s remedy is not focusing on and confessing sin – it is focusing on the cross and confessing our righteousness in Christ. More on this next time maybe.

Be blessed and joyful.
garry@gracelove truth.com +27845562786

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zacchaeous

ZACCHAEUS & THE RICH RULER

DO WE PREACH GRACE OR LAW?

Two linked Bible stories reveal the differences between the effect of The Law and the effect of Grace.

(Lk 18:18)  A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”…….          (Lk 19:2)  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was………

It is not by coincidence that these two stories almost directly follow each other in The Scriptures!

1)    WHY DID JESUS PREACH RELIGIOUS LAW TO SOME AND GRACE TO OTHERS?

God gives The Law to the Self-Righteous while to the humble and lost He shows Grace.

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Jesus understood that The Law was given to expose Self-Righteousness and for bringing people to an end of themselves. This is the only reason Jesus preached The Law, he never preached The Law to condemn people.  The Jewish Teachers of Jesus’ day had totally misunderstood the purpose of The Law of Moses (The ten commandments+). They used it for the exact opposite purpose for which it was intended.  They taught that people could be saved and holy by obeying The Law.

In contrast Jesus preached The Law to show that no one could ever be saved by keeping The Law and that all fall short, all have sinned and all need a Saviour and Grace. Jesus never preached the Ten Commandments as an external moral code for man to live by or a way of obtaining Righteousness. Jesus knew that these things could only come about through a heart transformed by Grace.

Let’s be honest, we all would like to keep the Ten Commandments, but the truth is that we all blow it, no matter how hard we try.

The good news is that under The New Covenant, our role is to recognize that we fall short of God’s holiness standard, we therefore rely on God’s Grace and find rest in Christ from The Law. The Law just brings us terrible condemnation and death (2Cor.3:7-9) so we need to get free from it.

It is only from position of Grace that we are able to live in the way God desires: a loving, generous, holy life full of the fruit of the Spirit. Right living flows from a heart that is full of Grace, it can never come about by trying to obey The Law.

Traditionally we have been taught that Jesus preached Laws for believers to aspire to and live by. However we have missed the truth that both Jesus and Paul used The Law in a different way, in the way for which it was originally intended i.e. to expose the sin of Self-Righteousness, pride and the sin of unbelief. Moral sin flows out of unbelief, moral sin is the fruit of man’s pride and independence from God.

This misunderstanding of the purpose of The Law has led to confusion in the Church and has resulted in an erroneous deadly mixture of Law and Grace that has produced terrible fruit in many Christian lives.

 Looking at the two parables of the Rich Ruler and Zacchaeus help us understand how Jesus correctly applied Law and Grace with amazingly different results.

2)    THE RICH RULER & THE LAW (Lk.18:18-24).

This parable typifies the Principle that to the Self-Righteous Jesus always preached The Law.

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Luke 18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”19 Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!

The key context

Luke 18:9 Jesus spoke this parable to  men who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.

Firstly, To enable us to fully understand what issue is actually being addressed it is very important to establish and interpret scripture in its context. A scripture taken out of context can be a con.

The context of these two stories is that Jesus was exposing the primary sin of pride and self-righteousness and was starting to reveal Grace to Israel.

Jesus knew that exposure of Self Righteousness is crucial, as the Self Righteousness deny the need for salvation…. after all who needs to be saved if they are righteous (in right standing with God) through their own efforts.  Self-Righteousness is the ultimate manifestation of man’s pride, man’s self sufficiency and the Fallen nature of Mankind.

The issue of Righteousness by self effort or Righteous by Grace is in fact the key theme of Scripture, it is crux of the Cross and is one of the keys to fully understanding the Kingdom and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Rom.14:17).

Points from the story of the Rich Ruler.

Jesus’ intent in this encounter was not to give us another impossible Law to obey “You must sell everything and give all your money to the poor”. Jesus was actually exposing Self-Righteousness and the bondage to money from which self-sufficiency and self-righteousness often flows.

Jesus was responding to a very specific question (v18) from a self-sufficient and rich Ruler who asked: “What must I do to inherit Eternal Life?”.

The Rich Ruler’s question reveals the foundations of Self-Righteousness i.e. Self Effort. This trait happens to be particularly pertinent to the Rich because they are self- sufficient, able and  “Doers” based on:-

  • The erroneous and arrogant belief that we are able “ to do” things that make us worthy, holy and sufficiently qualified to spend eternity with God.
  • The assumption that we are good and don’t need a Saviour and God’s Grace.
  • The belief that we can obey laws and keep The Law to the perfect degree that God’s Holy Law demands.

Jesus’ usual response to people wanting to ‘do things’ to get saved was to preach The Law in an extreme form. In this case it was “Go and sell everything, give it to the poor and follow me“. Jesus knew that the Rich Ruler believed he was good, able and righteous. Jesus also knew that he was obsessed with money. Despite his claim of having kept The Law since childhood, through his money making he had actually repeatedly broken the Law “Thou shalt not covet”.  Sadly the Rich Ruler was blind to this fact.

If this Rich Ruler was ever to repent and be saved In response Jesus had to first reveal the Rich Rulers Self-Righteousness, spiritual blindness and bondage to money.

What is interesting is the actual affect the preaching of Law actually had on the Rich Ruler. Did he repent? No! Instead he hardened his heart and turned away from Jesus because he realised he could not DO what The Law required. In a way it seems like a strange story. No one was saved, no one repented and no one followed Jesus.  However it needs to be said that firstly, the Rich Ruler missed the point of Jesus’ teaching. Secondly, not everyone is saved and The Lord gives us freewill to turn away if we choose.  Thirdly, the sermon was not wasted as the listening crowd understood what was being taught and responded in the right way to Jesus’ teaching. The response Jesus was looking for was actually for people to understand their precarious position and cry out for Grace.

Lk 18:26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

Lessons from the Rich Ruler

  1. Self-Righteousness is a strong bondage which spiritually blinds people.
  2. The religious-rich are particularly prone to Self-Righteousness.
  3. No one can save themselves by keeping The Law.
  4. Law preaching results in condemnation and turning away from Jesus.
  5. Law preaching just reinforces how much we fall short and fail.
  6. Preaching The Law doesn’t get people saved.
  7. Preaching The Law does not lead to repentance.

Thankfully Jesus also didn’t leave us with just this story as He desired to teach us what happens when we preach The Law and what happens when we share Grace.  The teaching continues and He reveals the way of Grace in the very next chapter. And thank God the results are astoundingly different!

3)    THE RICH TAX COLLECTOR AND GRACE

Luke 19:2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a “sinner.’” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

house

The  context.

The rich man in this story is called Zacchaeus which means “an Israelite”. He was a Jew just like the Rich Ruler and as such he was also under the Law of Moses. Zacchaeus was a very rich Jewish Tax collector who worked for the Romans. These tax collectors exploited and defrauded the Jewish people and they were intensely hated. The Jews considered him to be a traitor, a sinner and unclean (v7) -no one would associate with him.

Points from the story of Zacchaeus

What is crucial in this story is for us to see that Zacchaeus was desperate to encounter Jesus.  This desperation for Jesus is what determines Jesus’ actions and response to Zacchaeus. Unlike the Rich Ruler, Zacchaeus’ focus was not on ‘what he should do’ but on who Jesus was. This rich man humbled himself and climbed a tree just so he could see Jesus. This must have been quite a sight and quite an effort for this short man. Jesus’ response to the rotten and corrupt Zacchaeus was pure love and Grace.

(v5) “ Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

This was amazing as Jesus knew that Zacchaeus was despised and a “sinner”. Jesus also knew that his offer to go to Zacchaeus’ house would offend people as Zacchaeus was a Jew, under the Law and clearly a Law breaker. However in stark contrast to Jesus’ response to the Rich Ruler:-

  • Jesus never preached The Law to Zacchaeus.
  • Jesus never once pointed out his sin or that Zacchaeus lacked anything.
  • Jesus never indicated that He required Zacchaeus to do anything.
  • He never condemned Zacchaeus in any way.
  • Jesus simply showed him Grace and acceptance – by coming to his house to eat.

 

The affect of Jesus’ Grace and acceptance is nothing short of miraculous and is in stark contrast to the Rich Ruler who turned away from Jesus:-

  • Zacchaeus is overwhelmed by Jesus’ Grace
  • He welcomed Jesus and was full of joy (v6).
  • He received salvation through Jesus (v9&10).
  • The kindness of Jesus causes him to repent of his sinful way of life (v8).
  • He was contrite and humble of heart and confessed his sin.
  • Without being told what to do, his heart led him to do what was right (eous).
  • He was set free from his bondage to money.
  • He showed a heart for the poor and needy.
  • He set out to make right the affects of his past sins.

It must be clearly understood that it is not his actions of giving away his money that gained him salvation and righteousness. Giving his money away was the result of his meeting Jesus, experiencing Grace and receiving salvation.  True salvation and Grace always results in a transformed character and Godly good works that are from the heart.

Lessons from Zacchaeus.

  1. When people seek Jesus He responds in Grace.  Jesus is Grace!
  2. Jesus shows Grace to those who are humble and not Self-Righteous.
  3. When we share Grace, unconditional love and acceptance, people will be saved.
  4. It’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance, not the Law.
  5. People don’t need the Law to know that they are sinners and fall short in some way.
  6. Repentance is a change of mind, a change of belief which results in a change of actions.
  7. True ‘good works’ come from a heart transformed by Grace.
  8. A  heart touched by Grace will show concern for the oppressed and needy.

4)    CONCLUSION

Preaching Religious Laws exposes peoples short coming but it doesn’t bring people to salvation.

There is a better way than preaching Law-  it’s the way of revealing God’s love and Grace through Jesus Christ!

Not only does the Grace of Christ bring people to salvation but it transforms people’s characters and enables them to live Righteously.

 

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SERMON ON THE MOUNT

Many Christian struggle with the Sermon on the Mount  in which Jesus seems to set impossibly high standards for Christian living  (Mt.5:1- Mt.7:29).

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In His famous sermon Jesus seems to be setting amazingly high standards of living, which despite our heart’s desire, most of us know we fall short of. However before we fall into condemnation and are driven to do more good works to prove ourselves, we need to read the whole sermon on the mount, beginning to end and ask what was Jesus’ aim, who was He addressing and for what reason?

When seeking to understand this important sermon from the aspect of grace we see that Jesus’purpose was actually to call us to a dependence on Him, His holiness (1Cor.1:30), His righteousness (Matt.5:20) and His Spirit rather than to give us a list of seemingly impossibly high “do and don’t” to endeavor to live by in our own strength. Jesus is in fact teaching that the wonderful sentiments of this sermon can only be lived out as His Spirit and His grace empowers and free us to be His life on earth.

It is important for us to grasp this deeper and significant theme of the Sermon on the Mount least like the famous writer Leo Tolstoy (of ‘War and Peace’ fame)  we take the sermon simply to be a list of rules for good Christian living. Tolstoy thought this and in the early 20th century he built a movement solely around the teaching and laws of the  Beatitudes. This movement, like most Christianity based on laws, rules and regulations was doomed to failure because rule based living relies on acts of man’s will rather than the empowering and righteousness of the Spirit of Jesus within. The strength, will and obedience of man always falls short unless it is sourced in the grace and empowering of Jesus.

When looking at the Sermon on the Mount one of the critical truths is to recognize is that Jesus preached this sermon to Jews who were following Him as a Rabbi (a Jewish teacher), they did not yet know Him or recognize Him as Lord and Savior.  The context of the whole sermon is that Jesus was addressing the issue of righteousness – how we get right with God (Mat.5:20). He was expounding the very, very, high standard of righteous living expected of those under the Law of Moses who were seeking to be righteous through Law  keeping (Rom.9:31). Jesus was endevoring to being about a paradim shift as to what righteousness was and how it was attained.

Jesus was clarifying that if we choose to live by laws and rules, the righteous behavior required by the Law must even exceed that of the strictest Pharisee. Jesus points out that these “righteous” Pharisees that lead Israel,were actually hypocrites (Mat.6:2) and  were in many instances breaking the commandments and teaching the others to do the same .  Jesus taught,  if anyone wants to be righteous enough for God based on the Law, it only works if you live perfectly and are perfect just like God …. like Him (Mat.5:38)….. think about that one.

Thank God that in the end of the sermon Jesus reminds us that the solution  is to seek first His kingdom and HIS righteousness. His righteousness is not based on our keeping the Law & our works but on the cross and His fulfillment of the Law (Rom.3.21-22). That’s the good news of the gospel of the grace of Christ – our righteousness is a gift from God, not something we work for.

Now some may think that I am are implying that we need to ignore the all the good and beautiful things in the Sermon on the Mount and the high standard of living it alludes to – no, I’m not!  But I am are saying don’t think that you can earn righteousness and God’s favor by trying to live out these things – you will never make the grade and ultimately you will fall into self righteousness and /or condemnation. That’s the point of the teaching to show us how we all fall short if we focus on the way we live instead of who we live by.  We live by the Spirit of Jesus within us and in this grace we find ourselves living righteously in a natural effortless way that is full of joy , love and a blessing to all around us, simply because of who we are in Christ and who He is in us (Gal.2:20).

It is good and desirable to bless our enemies, endure persecution as a blessing, never break any of the Law’s commandments, to forgive, reconcile, turn the other cheek, be perfect like God, to stop focusing on money, keep pure thoughts, not to get angry with others, to pray, give, stop worrying, fast,  not to swear, not to get divorced, to bear good fruit and not to judging others. I’m all for it  and I’m sure we all want to live like this, but if the truth be known we just so often fall short (Rom.7:19) –  try as much as we want!

The good news is that righteousness is the root not the fruit of good works! We will find ourselves doing the things of the Sermon on the Mount once we have found Jesus’ righteousness, firmly established ourselves in it and realized that we are righteous not because of any  good works, obedience, self effort, will or trying. We are righteous purely because we have received the gift of Jesus righteousness (Rom.3:19-24)and for no other reason. Righteous living can only come about as a fruit of knowing that our righteousness is Jesus alone.

It’s not just coincidence that after preaching all the heavy high standards of righteousness  to the Jews, Jesus next meeting is with an leper and a Roman gentile, both rejects according to the Jewish Law. Jesus responses radically to their faith, not by preaching but showing grace by healing. Amazingly he make that statement that he has never found such faith in the whole of Israel as he experienced in the Roman gentile “sinner” (Matt 8:1-10), could this amazing faith have come about because this Roman was not under Law and therefore faith could operate? The lesson is that it’s hard for those who choose to place themselves under law, rules, regulations and obedience based on self effort and will (the Jews in this case) to please God. However those under grace please God simply because of their trust and belief in His goodness and His Son. That’s what New Covenant living is all about – our dependence on Jesus and His Spirit within us.

Be blessed,
Garry
www.gracelovetruth.com
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